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There is now a selection of Howard Barker poems read by Julia Tarnoky. See them here.

Howard Barker

Howard Barker's first play was performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 1970. Subsequently, his works were played by the Royal Court, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Open Space Theatre, Sheffield Crucible and the Almeida. He is currently Artistic Director of The Wrestling School, a company established to disseminate his works and develop his theory of production. His work is played extensively in Europe, in translation, in The United States, and in Australia . He writes regularly for radio, both in England and Europe . He is the author of plays for marionettes and has written three librettos for opera. Howard Barker is the author of two works of theory, and five volumes of poetry. He is also a painter. His work is held in national collections in England (V&A, London) and Europe. Barker has written a collection of essays on the nature of theatre, published as Arguments For A Theatre (Manchester University Press).

Howard Barker's plays are known for their fearless exploration of power, sexuality and human motivation. His texts overflow with rich language, challenging ideas, history, beauty, violence and imaginative comedy, all brought together within the extremes of human experience to create a powerful and compelling theatrical experience. 

Barker's texts are constructed on the premise that theatre is a necessity in society, a place for imagination and moral speculation, not constrained by the demands of realism or any ideology. Barker describes his work with the term Theatre of Catastrophe. In Barker's work, no attempt is made to satisfy any demand for clarity or the deceptive simplicity of a single 'message'; each performance is like a public challenge in which actors and audience are inspired to find meaning and resonance from a multiplicity of interpretations. 

Long considered the enfant terrible of contemporary British theatre and the subject of heated debate, whether loved or hated, his plays are impossible to ignore. 

On the European mainland especially, Barker is considered one of the major writers of modern European theatre. In the last three years, 27 of his works have been staged in six languages in 17 countries as diverse as Canada, New Zealand and Slovenia. Yet in Britain, his home country, he is largely unknown; during this period there have been just four productions of his plays. 


  • Claw 
  • Victory 
  • The Love of a Good Man 
  • The Power of the Dog 
  • Scenes from an Execution 
  • The Castle 
  • The Europeans 
  • A Hard Heart 
  • Seven Lears 
  • The Bite of the Night 
  • The Possibilities 
  • Rome 
  • Hated Nightfall 
  • Judith 
  • The Gaoler's Ache for the Nearly Dead 
  • (Uncle) Vanya 
  • He Stumbled 
  • A House of Correction 
  • Ursula; Fear of the Estuary 
  • Gertrude The Cry
All published by Calder Publications 
126 Cornwall Road 
London SE1 8TQ 
Tel: +44 (0)171 633 0599 


  • Don't Exaggerate 
  • The Breath of the Crowd 
  • Gary the Thief 
  • Lullabies for the Impatient 
  • The Ascent of Monte Grappa 
  • The Tortman Diaries 
All published by Calder Publications 
[as left]


  • Terrible Mouth (Music by Nigel Osborne) 
Universal Edition


  • Arguments for a Theatre (3rd Edition) 
Manchester University Press

Howard Barker has written about the development of his theatre aesthetic over the past 20 years
A Style And Its Origins

Published by Oberon Books
+44 20 7607 3637

Howard Barker plays in French translation:

Les Sept Lears ISBN 2-905158-99-9
Tableau d'une Execution ISBN 2-905158-81-6
Les Europeens ISBN 2-87282-227-5
N'Exageres Pas ISBN 2-8774-414


There is a Howard Barker website at:
Plus a Facebook page.

Eroticism and Death in Theatre and Performance, a book featuring an afterword by Howard is published on 1st October 2010.              
Includes essays by, amongst others, David Rudkin, Dic Edwards and David Ian Rabey.
Price:  £18.99 paperback
ISBN:  978-1-902806-92-1
Order from any bookshop or online bookshop, or buy direct from UH Press via their website,, or by calling 01707 284654.


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