Theatre of CatastropheThe achievement of Barker's work has been its exemplification of the obligation of choice or refusal for the audience and performers alike. This works by throwing their sense of experience into flux. Through drama which pursues to the boundaries of the tolerable and explodes them. The relentless refusal of the expected, and the excess of transforming experiences is the essence of dramatic experience, involving the bewilderment of the audience in the face of persistent dislocation. The sense of having witnessed too much is crucial. It leads not to a drunkenness or a reeling exhaustion but a roaring sense of possibility and a rinsing out of accumulated expectations. Barker's own title for this form of theatre is Catastrophism.
David Ian Rabey
Theatre of Catastrophe takes as its first principle the idea that art is not digestible. Rather, it is an irritant in consciousness, like the grain of sand in the oyster's gut...
Howard BarkerTheatre of Catastrophe is not a discipline. This alone marks it out from the general world of theatre practice which masquerades as a market-place for competing truths but in practice just exchanges one moral imperative for another. In this instance of theatre, the audience is relieved of the infantile burden of being brought to the author's point of view - who cares about his point of view? - we ask him to be imaginative.