Howard Barker | Biography

Howard Barker was born in South London in 1946.  His first stage play was performed in 1970 at the Royal Court.  Subsequently, his works were played by the Royal Court, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Open Space Theatre, Sheffield Crucible and the Almeida. His early nausea with social realism, his embracing of tragedy ‘the greatest art form known to man’, his poetic discourse, and what he calls ‘a suffocating unanimity of critical and theatre opinion’ served to isolate him from mainstream theatre in this country, whose culture he describes as ‘utilitarian, entertainment-obsessed and awash with moral platitudes.’  Such a solitude has been compensated by a powerful and growing international reputation and the formation of ‘The Wrestling School’, a company specifically created to develop his theories of theatre, now in its twenty-fourth year.  Barker sees his mission as developing a ‘conscience-free, speculative, tragic theatre speaking its own language …’ He describes his greatest achievement as earning world-wide status without compromising his principles.  His work is played extensively in Europe, in translation, in The United States, and in Australia. 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.

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