Plays

Poetry or Bust

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Poetry or Bust was first performed at Salts Mill, Saltaire, in September 1993.

The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus (Delphi)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Trackers of Oxyrhyncus had a unique one-performance world premiere in the ancient stadium of Delphi in 1988. During 1989 it was performed at the National Theatre, London, and in unique historical spaces in Saltaire and Carnuntum. In it Tony Harrison remakes the fragmentary text of a satyr play by Sophocles into an astringent comedy for our times, incorporating into the action the two Edwardian papyrologists who discovered the original.

This edition contains the text as it was performed in Delphi.

A term that gained currency in the late twentieth century to describe theatre designed for a specific space or location that is not itself designed for theatrical use. Coming at the fine art end of an unconventional spectrum – often also called installation – there is usually an emphasis on the visual and/or the technological, and there is overlap with performance art and environmental theatre. A performer has spent seven days asleep in a glass case in an art gallery; classical drama has been staged in former Nazi submarine docks; and computer artists from different countries have beamed images on to buildings surrounding a once thriving shipyard while a multimedia event among the yard’s swivelling cranes is able to be seen by 30 million people on the internet. On one industrial estate in the north of England, a play starred 75 cars, three buses and an excavator. The audience drove in, sat in their cars in a circle, and played their part by hooting their horns and slamming their doors. The play was broadcast on radio. An early fashion for the spectacular began to give way to more ordinary, non-theatrical locations.

from Charles London, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).