Reflections on a Decade of Punchdrunk Theatre

This article was published in issue 37 of TheatreForum, a journal published by the University of California, San Diego. The article is still accessible via ProQuest. Feel free to contact me by email if you have access issues.

MLA Citation data:

Eglinton, Andrew. “Reflections on a Decade of Punchdrunk Theatre.” TheatreForum, no. 37, University of California, San Diego, 2010, pp. 46-55.

Abstract

Over the past decade, Punchdrunk, one of Britain’s foremost experimental theatre companies, has been working with stories and spaces of epic proportion. The company‘s ability to exploit sound, light, movement, and environment, merging mass spectacle with intimate audience experiences, has earned them widespread critical acclaim.

Between 2000 and 2003, founder and artistic director Felix Barrett embarked with the company on a series of adaptations of classic texts. Common to each of these productions was an audience experience of disorientation and discovery, whereby text and language were taken apart and core themes were reworked in large-scale installations on unconventional sites. Within these highly detailed and atmospheric environments, scenes were often performed as timed loops, allowing the audience to roam freely through the space and pursue individual narratives inside thematically holistic worlds.

Since the company’s 2003 production of Sleep No More, Punchdrunk’s work has continued to push the artistic and ethical boundaries of audience participation and develop a poetics of the senses relative to the demands of “liveness” in a mediatized age. In this article I examine the key themes, concepts, and methodologies that have informed Punchdrunk’s major works since 2003.

Journal cover


Cover photo by Allison Meier, creative commons license. Scene from Sleep No More Halloween party, Nov 1 2011.

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