By Theodore Shank (eds.)
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The second piece, Berkoff's stage-version of Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart', was a brilliant theatricalisation of the grotesque. Alone on stage Berkoff, in the frock-coat, breeches and necktie of a dilapidated count, writhed, hissed and extruded out of Poe's tale its horrific core. His knee trembled up, his hand clawed the air in front, his right eye seemed to enlarge into a key-hole. The deadlocked pull between movement and immobility enacted the claustrophobia of the tale as he never moved from his spot centre-stage.
Pop culture is essential to the communications hegemony of the modern capitalist State. Each has lived off the other but now popular culture, as the much larger beast, seems about to swallow the avant-garde and performance art in particular. David Gale, founder-member of the distinguished company Lumiere & Son, in a paper given at a conference on performance art at the Riverside Studios in 1986, described how, ten years on, many practitioners felt 'sated and starved at the same time'. He was not just imaging performance art as an unwelcome guest at the capitalist feast.
Eliot's Greek-based modern plays and his self-declared stance -'classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and Anglo-Catholic in religion' (my emphasis). But British playwrights who abhor Eliot's attitude have also turned to ancient Greece. Perhaps these playwrights were inspired by the forays of two renowned English directors - John Barton's ten-play Greeks in 1980 and Peter Hall's Oresteia in 1981 (in a version by Tony Harrison). Unlike these directors, however, the playwrights (with the exception of Harrison) restrict their archaeology to a single play.
Contemporary British Theatre by Theodore Shank (eds.)