Barker's new play investigates the intimate connection people can make with objects that, although mundane in themselves, resonate with memory or inspire powerful emotional feelings. Even the simplest artefact can acquire enormous psychological and social significance.
Amongst the 13 Objects referred to in the title are a spade, a cup and saucer, a pair of shoes, a drum, a bucket and an urn. All familiar items that inspire extreme feelings of sorrow, joy, pain, anger, become a site for struggle, a means of independence and servitude, even a substitute for the identity of a human being.
Established in 1988 by actors from the RSC and the Royal Court, the Wrestling School acts as a focus for the demanding, distinctive and sexually charged work of playwright Howard Barker, long considered and enfant terrible of modern British theatre.
The company's name derives from the notion that performers must study and 'wrestle' with the ideas in Barker's text before being able to present them effectively on stage. Recent acclaimed Wrestling School productions have included Gertrud, A House of Correction, He Stumbled and Scenes from an Execution, which the company has toured throughout the UK and Europe.
Following Birmingham, 13 Objects will continue to Liverpool, London, Loughborough, Colchester and Poole.
- by Terri Paddock