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Current Projects
Wrestling With Barker Residential School
Ursula at RADA

9-19 April 2008: I Saw Myself    

Last year Arts Council England refused further funding to the company and after 20 years of cutting edge work we faced closure. However, a US fan determined to see our ground breaking work continue has now pledged to replace that funding for the next three years and we are delighted to be able to announce a full production of one of Howard Barker's newest works this April in London.

Sleev, a rich and promiscuous woman wants to confess her scandalous sexual history to a world that has never dared acknowledge it…

The men are at war. The women weave a great tapestry portraying the conflict. The death of Sleev's husband in battle compels her to insinuate her sexual adventures into the tapestry, provoking fear and hostility in all those around her. In her struggle to assert the right to depict her personal experience Howard barker has created another gloriously self-willed, erotic and fascinating character.

This thought-provoking work explores the role of the mirror, the autobiography and the self-portrait in an intriguing and unpredictable way.

As the great work progresses, she and the servants gradually loose their sight, such is the intensity of their labour. In the end, as the war she has obscured erupts in the village and the servants must hide the tapestry from their enemies, she must face a new life unable to see her own pictorial confession…

Howard Barker's last work on the role and responsibility of the artist in society was the internationally acclaimed Scenes From An Execution. Here this theme is further explored with the artist character ferociously denying the importance of depicting the collective experience to insist on her right to tell her own story. Her punishment is cruel but her courage never deserts her. In her struggle to survive war and social hostility, and her determination to complete her individual vision of events, Howard Barker has created his most outstanding female character since Gertrude The Cry.

The intention in this production will be to accumulate dramatic pressure in the struggle of Sleev against the hostility of those around her and her increasing blindness, set against the rush to complete the tapestry before the approaching war reaches the village and threatens its destruction. We will convey the essence of the human emotional truth at the heart of each moment without recourse to naturalistic stage values. Rather we want to use the unique interaction between actor and audience only available in a live performance to directly convey the emotional power of each moment to that audience.

With increasing focus in our work on the use of movement and gesture, we believe the physiological and emotional content of a moment will communicate itself more immediately and audiences will motre fully experience and respond to the work.

"…. ruthless precision, courage, honesty of base emotions,
intelligent irreverence… It reconnected me with why I am here…"

Letter from audience member for The Fence

I Saw Myself will be our 20th birthday year production.

9 - 19 April 2008  Mon - Sat 7.30pm   Matinee Sat 19 April  3pm
Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre   
Malet Street London WC1
5mins from Tottenham Court Rd or Googe St tube stations

Tickets will be on sale from the Box Office from mid February.


Wrestling With Barker Residential School Summer 2008

This intensive practical four day residential School led by Wrestling School members will explore the practice, techniques and underlying theories of theatre that make up the Wrestling School's method of preparing and presenting Howard Barker texts in performance. It will include an opportunity to observe Howard Barker directing company members in the initial exploration of an as yet unpublished and unperformed new text.

The School will be held in the beautiful surroundings of the University of Exeter, a simple 2.5hr train journey from London.

Check back here in mid February for further details on dates, costs and how to book or email us to ask to be sent this once it is available.

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Howard Barker's latest book:
Death The One and the Art of Theatre
Published by Routledge
2 Park Square Milton Park Abingdon Oxon OX14 4PN

By Howard Barker
Directed by Melanie Jessop for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Howard Barker's reimagining of the legend of St Ursula who led 11,000 virgins down the Rhine to escape the invading Huns. The play's examination of virginity, mothers, spiritual and sexual ecstasy, shame and the sticky nature of love holds a powerful contemporary resonance.

Ursula is directed for RADA by Wrestling School Associate, Melanie Jessop.

John Gielgood Theatre at RADA
Tue 11 - Sat 22 March 7pm
Box Office: 020 7908 4800

Further details from