Bite of the Night … A Play by Howard Barker

Hugh Hodgart is what you might call a bit of a Scottish theatrical legend. Head of the School of Drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama).Hugh Hodgart

For Hodgart, as a director and teacher, presenting student actors such as Colin Morgan with a Howard Barker play is rather like offering them a drama by Shakespeare: “Barker is a poet and a historian, and that’s expressed through his writing.  Barker’s theatre stands, says the director, against “the dead hand of Hollywood realism. Something has happened in the past 100 years that has made us fearful of drama which is poetic, ambiguous and metaphorical”.

I am copying here the entire First Prologue of Bite of the Night as an example of Hugh Barker’s poetry.  The play was directed by Professor Hugh Hodgart.

First Prologue

They brought a woman from the street  And made her sit in the stalls
By threats  By bribes  By flattery
Obliging her to share a little of her life with actors

But I don’t understand art.  Sit still, they said

But I don’t want to see sad things.  Sit still, they said

And she listened to everything   Understanding some things  But not others
Laughing rarely, and always without knowing why
Sometimes suffering disgust  Sometimes thoroughly amazed
And in the light again, said

If that’s art I think it is hard work.  It was beyond me.  So much beyond my actual life

But something troubled her   Something gnawed her peace
And she came a second time, armoured with friends

Sit still, she said

And again, she listened to everything
This time understanding different things
This time untroubled that some things
Could not be understood
Laughing rarely  but now without shame
Sometimes suffering disgust  Sometimes thoroughly amazed
And in the light again said

This is art, it is hard work.  And one friend said, too hard for me
And the other said,  if you will, I will come again
Because I found it hard.  I felt honoured

— Howard Barker,
from The Bite of the Night



17 comments on “Bite of the Night … A Play by Howard Barker

  1. Looking at this passionate man, I can only believe that it would have been amazing to be in his class. What a joy to learn from someone so filled with the love of his art.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. leahluna55 says:

    He is young and passionate! I’ve learned so much from him. As I always “an old soul”.


  3. maramac … I meant to say, join us in conversation or chat room anytime you like. It is always fun to add a new voice.


  4. leahluna55 says:

    OK! Sometimes…language barriers! Did you see the mail?


  5. What you did here works fine. Putting the link in your comments gives us a chance to see what you are sending. I thought you meant you were trying to link it to the post … that is what doesn’t work. Hope I haven’t discouraged you. Put all the links you want on your comments … we will be glad to have your input. Best Regards, ffm


  6. maramac says:

    No worries. I don’t know how much input I can give since I wasn’t around from the beginning of Colin’s career but I HAVE more than made up for it in the last two year, I suppose. Having said that, I’m more focused on his recent projects, though I do share your love for Parked and Island (the latter which I didn’t watch for over a year after buying the DVD because I was afraid of the effect Colin’s Scottish accent would have on me….. what can I say…. it’s a weakness)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s a weakness we share, Mara 🙂 Anytime I imagine the Tale of Table Rock, his voice is right there in my head.


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