‘Love in the Museum’: Howard Barker, the Erotic and the Elizabethan/Jacobean Text

  • Graham Saunders
Part of the Adaptation in Theatre and Performance book series (ATP)


This chapter focuses in more detail at Howard Barker’s ideas (principally expressed in his essay collection Arguments for a Theatre) as his rationale for the appropriation of classical texts and belief in the radical potential of classical tragedy in terms of the erotic as well as offending modern culture’s sensibilities about the nature of death. This chapter targets Barker’s other major engagements with Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedy, including his self-styled ‘collaboration’ with Thomas Middleton on Women Beware Women (1986), Seven Lears (1990), and Gertrude (The Cry) (2002), Barker’s revisitation of Hamlet.


  1. Adelman, J. 1992. Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare’s Plays. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Barker, H. 1990. Seven Lears. London: Calder.Google Scholar
  3. Barker, G. 1993a. Preface to the Merchant of Venice. London: Nick Hern.Google Scholar
  4. Barker, G. 1993b. Preface to King Lear. London: Nick Hern.Google Scholar
  5. Barker, H. 1997. Arguments for a Theatre, 3rd ed. Manchester: MUP.Google Scholar
  6. Barker, H. 2002a. Gertrude—The Cry. London: Calder.Google Scholar
  7. Barker, H. 2002b. Programme Notes. Gertrude—The Cry.Google Scholar
  8. Barker, H. 2005. Death, the One and the Art of Theatre. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Barker, H., and E. Houth. 2007. A Style and its Origins. London: Oberon.Google Scholar
  10. Barker, H., and T. Middleton. 1986. Women Beware Women. London: Calder.Google Scholar
  11. Beer, G. 1989. Arguing with the Past: Essays in Narrative From Woolf to Sidney. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Bennett, S. 1996. Performing Nostalgia: Shifting Shakespeare and the Contemporary Past. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Carney, S. 2013. The Politics and Poetics of Contemporary English Tragedy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  14. Eagleton, T. 2003. Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  15. Eliot, T.S. 1960. The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  16. Gritzner, K., and Rabey, D.I. (eds.). 2006. Theatre of Catastrophe: New Essays on Howard Barker. London: Oberon.Google Scholar
  17. Iball, H. 2006. ‘Dead Hands and Killer Heels.’ In Theatre of Catastrophe: New Essays on Howard Barker, (eds.) Gritzner, K. and  Rabey, D.I. London: Oberon, 70–82.Google Scholar
  18. Rabey, D.I. 2003. English Drama Since 1940. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  19. Pinter, H. 1991. Plays Three. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  20. Sakellaridou, E. 1999. ‘New Faces for British Political Theatre.’ Studies in Theatre and Performance 20 (1): 43–51.Google Scholar
  21. Saunders, G. 2009. Sarah Kane: The Playwright and their Work. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  22. Smith, A. 2006. ‘I am not what I was: Adaptation and Transformation in the Theatre of Howard Barker and the Wrestling School.’ In Theatre of Catastrophe: New Essays on Howard Barker, (eds.) Gritzner, K. and  Rabey, D.I. London: Oberon, 38–55.Google Scholar
  23. Tomlin, E. 2006. ‘A New Tremendous Aristocracy: Tragedy and the Meta-Tragic in Barker’s Theatre of Catastrophe.’ In Theatre of Catastrophe: New Essays on Howard Barker, (eds.) Gritzner, K. and Rabey, D.I. London: Oberon, 109–23.Google Scholar
  24. Willett, J. 1967. Theatre of Bertolt Brecht: A Study From Eight Aspects, 3rd rev ed. London: Eyre Methuen.Google Scholar
  25. Willett, J. trans and ed. 1993. Brecht on Theatre. London: Eyre Methuen.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations