Striking world premiere for Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Tri-partnership enables experimental collaboration by playwright Howard Barker

A striking new play, set in a world where all the doctors have been killed in order to let the poets become the healers, opens at Exeter Northcott Theatre next week.

Howard Barker’s BLOK/EKO promises to be a remarkable event, but what is significant about this world premiere is that it marks a new collaboration between universities and theatres, research councils and writers.

In these times of financial austerity, three partners – Exeter University, The Northcott Theatre and the Wrestling School Theatre Company, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, have taken an innovative approach to the challenge of getting experimental playwriting commissioned and performed on stage.

This work is an unusual collaboration; combining the resources of its partners to create an event that each of them could not produce independently.

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Barker’s research, an investigation into what is too much and too little on stage – plethora and bare sufficiency – drives the production.

He has not only written, but is also directing this play, so will transform his artistic vision from page to stage.

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As part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Creative Fellowship programme, it has enabled the University’s drama department to collaborate with artists of national and international repute, whose works have high public and popular profiles.

Barker, billed in The Times as “Britain’s greatest living dramatist”, turns 65 this year and it is 21 years since his first play was published.

He has worked with many great British actors and institutions, Alan Rickman, Ian MacDiarmid, Juliette Stevenson, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court and the BBC.

His curiosity about what theatre might be is unabated, and he continues to explore the edges of what theatre can be.

BLOK/EKO runs from Thursday, June 9 to Saturday June 11 from 7.30pm. All seats are �14 (Over 60s �2 off, concessionary tickets half price. Tickets from Northcott box office (01392) 493493 or online:

There will be a post show talk on Friday, June 10.

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