Premiere of The Forty

Students perform Howard Barker's The Forty at Theatr y Castell, Aberystwyth

Students perform Howard Barker's The Forty at Theatr y Castell, Aberystwyth

07 December 2011

Lecturers and students at Aberystwyth University’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies will this week be presenting the first performances of Howard Barker’s compendium of plays, The Forty.

The production, which will be performed at the Theatr y Castell from 7th-10th December, is one of seven projects led by lecturers and practitioners in the Department and works with mentoring final-year Drama and Theatre students.

Playwright Howard Baker will attend Thursday’s performance and he, together with the play’s director, Professor David Ian Rabey, will engage in a question and answer session in the theatre following the performance.

Professor Rabey, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Aberystwyth University explains: “This production of The Forty brings together both staff and students at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies to perform one of our Honorary Professors.

Barker's explorations of both the singular moment and the limits of language achieve a new formal concentration and beauty in The Forty, a compendium which stretches beyond even the ambition of his other dramatic collections such as The Possibilities and 13 Objects to present forty short plays, each concentrating on a moment of extreme emotional tension, and foregrounding the ways in which words and gestures provide currency for negotiation.

“Many of the characters in The Forty are glimpsed at crisis points, as in that resonant phrase ‘at the end of their tethers'. These are elliptical narratives, in the sense of being so condensed as to be ambiguous: do they present a prelude, or an aftermath (or both)?

“The audience is invited to imagine further beyond, on the basis of an active, tensile incompletion in word and deed: a fateful hinge moment, and the surrounding tensile readiness, forceful disengagement, despairing submission, or shocking nonchalance.” 

Tickets for the performances can be purchased through Aberystwyth Arts Centre by either calling the Box Office on 01970 623232 or visiting