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The Fence
Summer 2005

The Fence is a violent, comic, sexually provocative epic about scandal in a ruling monarchy and its subsequent fall from power. Set in a world of rising frontiers and illegal immigration, the fence of the title is a both a physical barrier between peoples and also a metaphor for the forbidden with all its transgressive attraction. At the heart of this social epic is a startling and intensely personal story of a blind boy's struggle to discover his true identity in a world where nothing is what it seems…

The Fence takes its inspiration from the ever present symbol of the physical frontier, as ancient as the Great Wall of China or as arbitrary as the Berlin Wall, but especially its most recent manifestation in Gaza, where the long distance fence currently under construction to separate Palestinian and Jewish communities is a literal barrier between peoples from different cultures.

Howard Barker builds a compelling metaphor for two agonies; the agony of cultural conflict, racial antagonism, mutual incomprehension, suspicion and mistrust with all its attendance mythology, and the agony of blindness, both literal and that which refuses to see. These explorations of deprivation and mutual hostility are bound together in a single narrative in which The Fence is a powerful barrier that must be overcome in order to move both individuals and society forward.

Powerful poetic language, provocative ideas and rich, dark humour build a compelling
exploration of barriers both physical and physiological to the migration and acceptance of peoples from different cultures. The work interweaves a series of images of the human race struggling to define itself both by intimacy with others (through parentage), and yet also by distinction from others to reinforce collective cultural identities.

The Fence makes a thought-provoking contribution to the debates surrounding one of the great social crises of our times. Howard Barker has not directly responded to an existing social/ political issue since the arms race inspired his classic and award winning The Castle of 1985. In that work he created a powerful image of our time using a historic setting. Here he invents a world of shocking relevance and universal metaphor in a place that might be England now or any place struggling with cultural taboos, transgression and difference anywhere in the world…

This play contains strong language and scenes of an explicit nature. Suitable for 15+.


June 1 - 4

Birmingham Rep  0121 245 2000

June 8 - 11
Post-show Discussion
with Howard Barker on 8th

Oxford Playhouse 01865 305305

June 23 - 25

Colchester Mercury Theatre  01206 573948
June 29 - July 2 York Theatre Royal 01904 623568

July 14 - 16

Vanburgh Theatre (RADA)

020 7636 7076

Supported by Arts Council England