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FELIX BARRETT

Felix Barrett in discussion with Josephine Machon: February 2007 - Battersea Arts Centre, London.

Link to Josephine Machon paper

I began by reminding Felix of one of my students who, when discussing her response to Punchdrunkís Faust, became frustrated by the fact that she couldnít find the verbal language to articulate her experience. I clarified that (syn)aesthetics was my attempt to find an academic approach to discussing such work; a method of analysis that embraces the fact that such work is challenging to talk about in its very taxonomy.

JM: Following on from a discussion that I had with Max[ine Doyle] about Punchdrunkís ethos Iíd like to know what your intentions were when you first set out to create work, and what concepts emerged that you see as defining Punchdrunkís work.

FB: The key thing originally was to empower the audience. It struck me that I was doing a drama degree but I didnít really enjoy going to the theatre because it felt too self indulgent, it wasnít for the audience; the conventions of going to the theatre are such that you rush in, invariably late, find your seat still panting and then you endure a first half and, irrespective of whether you like it or not, you sit there in silence, you observe, you praise and then you have the interval and so on. The formulaís all there, and then you queue to get a drink and finally you get there and then the bell goes and you have to go back in. Itís too familiar, too structured. And because of this familiarity, it kind of stops you responding to it because, before you go in, you know what itís going to be like. Obviously the performance is different each time, and then when you come out you might chat about it for a little bit and then you go for a drink and your conversation changes to something else and you forget about it, as if it never really existed, because you compartmentalise it into Ďtheatreí. So what I was interested in doing was to totally empower the audience, make the audience the epicentre of the work, which is what it should be, so they can control it. It also has a lot to do with impact. I was finding a lot of stuff that I was seeing was disappointing, and, in fact, my mum, when she cut back on her hours at work and made a decision to go and see loads of theatre and spent a year going to the theatre three times a week seeing everything that was on and it was a wash of mediocrity. The experiences were fine but nothing special and sheíd just forget them. And so my aim was, coupled with empowering the audience, was to strive to get something that smacks them in the guts, strives for a visceral impact, and thus an equivalent memory, so that it lives with you; itís a real experience, that becomes anecdotal. Itís yours, you own it, you carve your way through it, you created your own evening and it stays with you.

JM: That visceral impact is fundamental to a (syn)aesthetic approach.

FB: Itís really key to what we do.

JM: Would you define what the visceral is for you in terms of the performance experience?

FB: Itís the sense of unease, itís the fact that your comfort zone is removed, you donít know what to do. If you donít move itís not going to come to you, you have to go there. Doing that, youíve got the fear, youíve got the adrenalin, you can feel it, you can feel the temperature, you can sense that youíre part of the show. Itís the unease coupled with the excitement that youíre in control. And there are so many devices we use to aid that from the smells to the use of bass.

JM: Max talked to me about the fact that your concept is very much about space and form and respecting the audience, placing them at the epicentre. Max talked about the liveness of space, or specifically the life of the space, that she felt that you saw and accessed. Would you talk a little more about that idea?

FB: I was very interested early on in installation, just as a word. I didnít use it as an art-world definition but more to define space that is inherently theatrical and yet has no performance within it; meaning that itís a space that you walk into and something hits you. Thereís an impact, you feel something and it creates some sort of emotional response. Iím a firm believer that every space you go into is saying something; there are echoes in the walls. All we do as a company is draw those out. Compare the most sterile, white cube arts space, which has very little obvious presence, with a Victorian crumbling mansion, which has a whole history which you can see in its walls and feel it in the humidity. Itís about making that theatrical, letting that wash over you, so that that triggers the audienceís imagination.

JM: So in that respect, what happens if the space where the Punchdrunk event finally occurs wasnít initially the one that you had hoped to work the piece in? 21 Wapping Lane, for example, wasnít your initial choice for Faust.

FB: Weíve never done a show in the space that I first wanted. Max always gets slightly frustrated with this but I really have to work this way, because itís the space that builds the show. With Faust I limited myself to a one sentence pitch of what the show was; Faust, Goethe, little bit of Marlowe, with a starting point of the blues legend of Robert Johnson. Beyond that, until weíd actually found the space I wouldnít let myself imagine anything else. I wanted to get a hospital space for it because I thought, dramaturgically, that would open up a whole new layer; itís his imagination. We happened upon a psychiatric ward in Goodge Street, which would have been absolutely fantastic. But wherever the space is informs the piece. However, weíve never been able to pick, itís simply the size of the space thatís important because the audience need to get lost if they want to, they need to be able to lose themselves in the building. And it needs to be big enough to instil that sense of panic, so that at times they can feel out of control; this canít be safe, it canít be legal. One thing I always bang on about is that, even if we did a family show, weíd still need that nerve-racking entrance, because you need to reach that point as youíre entering that your comfort zone is removed, thereís a danger, the adrenalinís coursing through your veins so that your synapses are firing so that any sensory stimuli we then give to you, the audience, youíll receive it tenfold. The impactís greater and it stays with you. Itís a basic, very simple device. Cynically, I suppose you could say that thatís why people like theme parks and Ghost Trains because itís the same feeling, you feel alive.

JM: And you become most aware of being in the moment.

FB: A space could be Ďmade Punchdrunkí in about half an hour of first discovering it, black out the windows and so on, giving people those little ingredients that make up a show, because itís the impact of the space on the audience that establishes the show.

JM: Specifically via the way you manipulate that space? Because, to use your word, youíve been Ďsympatheticí to whatever youíve discovered in the space and brought that out?

FB: Itís the crescendo; in terms of the lighting, the sound, in terms of the actual course of the evening, itís about the crescendo with Punchdrunk. One of our very early shows, we were experimenting with form in an outdoor version of Oedipus and Antigone combined, six hours over the course of a Saturday, summerís afternoon, a beautiful garden, the place was fantastic, brilliant design team, the installation had little pockets, little groves, then massive woodlands and clearings; it was a joyous thing to behold. But, because it was daytime and thus daylight, and you could the distance that you were walking towards. Even though the detail was fantastic, little huts built of logs and so on, very exciting, but because you could see it as you walked, when you finally arrived there, there wasnít that sense of discovery. So thatís what I mean by the key thing now is the crescendo, the fact that you donít know whatís behind the door; itís so dark down the end of a corridor, should you go down there and when you finally do you get that reward because suddenly [the environment] changes, itís constantly unpredictable, it constantly evolves.

JM: It goes beyond the aesthetic experience of the visual.

FB: Giving that experience suspense, tension. A lot of other site companies are far more about ambience, almost a relaxing experience, like living history at times. Like, I love the work of Geri Pilgrim. Sheís a site-specific practitioner, sheís teaches theatre design at Wimbledon, and is a designer in her own right. She creates projects where her company takes over an empty building and create an installation based on the building, using whatís there, to create an environment that the audience is led through in a group and it becomes relaxing. Itís so the opposite of Punchdrunk, although itís an empty space thatís been designed and thereís so much detail in it, itís at the opposite end of the spectrum to what we do.

JM: To go back to what you were saying about the darkness and the crescendo, for me, Punchdrunkís work is about engaging an additional sense, a (syn)aesthetic sense, an intuitive sense that goes beyond the five senses which appreciate the general aesthetic quality of an event, and the intellectual experience of that. What Punchdrunkís work does is engage a human awareness beyond that.

FB: Yes, yes, itís the instinctual. Where youíre forced to add, whateverís going on in your head, you add that into the show, you build it in.

JM: Itís both the instinctual and the imaginative. So youíre always on tenterhooks.

FB: And whatever baggage you bring, the way you read situations depends on where you are as a person at that point in time, what childhood memories you launch into it.

JM: Could you talk in more detail about the different ways in which you play with the senses, and why it is that you want to manipulate the sensual experience of the audience? Thatís something thatís so clearly identifiable within the Punchdrunk aesthetic.

FB: Part of it goes back to the empowerment of the audience. A lot of it is to do with deconstructing Ė when we were originally doing straight plays it was much more evident, weíd condense the text so, for example, Caliban goes off stage left in a traditional proscenium arch theatre production, the actor playing him goes to the green room, waits for his next scene, comes back on again, in sporadic bursts, but in the Punchdrunk format thereís no respite, we fill in all the gaps. So you, the audience, see what happens when Prospero leaves, what Caliban does by himself in his own time. So in terms of the detail of the design, the sensory part of it, when a character opens a drawer and takes something out, like a letter, in a traditional theatre piece, the audience can never know whatís in there. You know itís fake, and yet youíre being invited to suspend your disbelief. In terms of empowering the audience, those sensual details give the audience the chance to really become part of it. You can open the drawer, you can root around, see the pen that wrote that letter, smell the ink, just so that it intoxicates them, they become part of it and it has greater impact. A lot of itís to do with, as you were saying, that extra sense and the power of the imagination, itís smells, things that haunt you and flavour the experience. Like we wanted to get the smell of cut grass into a show a couple of years ago because it triggers a certain response in people. Theyíre all ways of drawing you in so that you go beyond suspending your disbelief and actually the show infects your mind, so once itís over and youíve left, and youíre on the tube back, youíre still in that same space. Itís trying to hypnotise, itís immersion, and those elements add to that.

JM: Would you expand on Punchdrunkís particular fusion of performance elements in terms of form; why are you so excited by this fusion, this hybridity, and is that for you key to the engagement of the senses, to this immersion? Is the concept such that youíre fusing these elements in order to draw attention to this multi-sensual, montage effect?

FB: I donít think about those elements separately. We know there has to be this crescendo, this building up to that key moment where the experience is most heightened, and you canít do that without all those elements coming together, in order to guarantee that the impact is as strong as it can be. And maybe thatís part of them forgetting theyíre audience, theyíre living it, they are it. Ö Itís a lot to do with sensory bombardment as well. The shows that have really touched me, like Robert Wilsonís Woyzeck, at the Barbican. I came out loving it, I couldnít remember anything about the last hour because my brain was saturated with images from the first half hour. The impact was so potent. I suppose thatís what Iím interested in giving to our audience as well. ÖEven though that sounds like more is more itís very simple devices, if anything, I spend a lot of time arguing with our sound designer that itís too complex. One, continuous C-chord being played on the lower section of the strings, thatís all you need, the atmosphere is set. Again with the lighting designer of Faust, he wanted to use loads of lights when it didnít need that. A single light is more refined, the clarity is there, the impact is about there only being that one element, nothing else is detracting. So although the work is made up of all these elements put together, itís almost like only one of each to create the impact.

JM: Obviously the most vital collaboration within the process is between you and Max. Iím interested to know what why you sought out a choreographer for Sleep No More, and following on from that, why the dancing body is so important to you within the work.

FB: When [Punchdrunk] first started we used exactly the same conventions from day one as it is now, masks, free reign for the audience, sensory experience, pure darkness, pockets of light. We started in a town house, an audience capacity of fifteen, but as our events grew and the spaces got bigger and bigger and our ability to really affect an audience with the space grew. And we never wanted to spoon-feed them; we always wanted them to find the action. So if youíd been exploring a vast empty warehouse for quarter of an hour before you actually found performers, then you finally see them in the distance, and you finally get to see that scene and itís just a duologue. When we do use text itís always of a film persuasion itís never theatrical, so you have to come in close, the intimacy has to be there. But it became an anti-climax Ė youíd finally get to see the scene, youíd finally get to the performers, but the space was more powerful than the performers and as a result the performers wouldnít hold the attention of the audience. And although space is my passion and the audienceís movement around that and how they respond to it, itís the performance that actually has the ultimate power, thatís the final layer. Itís the combination of those two that makes the event work. So the space was fantastic but the action wouldnít hold the audience. So theyíd get bored and wander off. I think they felt a bit cheated in a way, youíre setting up such a big environment and the action didnít correspond. So the only way to solve that was gesture; a performance that was big enough to match the space. Also the danger element that comes in that hard, fast, staccato physicality, thatís assaulting in the same way that the spaces were.

JM: Why do you think that the physicality of the dancing body is Ďassaultingí?

FB: Itís the unpredictable again. Itís the combination of the sensitivity of the dancer - in fact, from now on I would always work with dancers, even if it were a straight acting job, because with dancers the tension extends to their fingertips - that sensitivity and that heightened naturalism, that slight off kilter pace of the dance that fits with the world created. So itís that coupled with a bold, athleticism. Itís like a super power. I hope that the audience feel that they have a childlike curiosity as they explore, and you feel youíre going further then you should do, so when you come across performers, you want them to be like gods. So you can lose yourself in them, revere them, so they become these all-powerful creatures. So suddenly thereís this physicality and power and that technical ability that they have. I think that worked so well in Sleep No More because I was totally new to it. When we were doing the fight scene between Macbeth and Banquo, it was more about the power moves of these two men, and it was more than just a stage fight, it was the testosterone and the shapes they could build, and the sheer sight of a young adult, male pushing himself to the absolute extent of his ability.

JM: So thereís something there about the body being more eloquent, more immediate than words. And, in terms of your audience experience, itís another security blanket being taken away.

FB: Also, Iíve said a lot about empowering the audience, but that element empowers the performers. They become mystical and magical if they donít speak, they always have that higher ground.

JM: You talked about only wanting to work with dancers now, is that because they are particularly able to communicate with their bodies? And is that for you what allows that heightened, embodied perception in the audience; because dancers are performers who have a greater sensitivity to that, to tapping into that?

FB: Yeah, very much so. Itís also because theyíre more truthful, which goes back to the audience existing within the event and going beyond the suspension of disbelief. Also, the performers are scrutinised for three hours, thereís no respite. Itís impossible almost to remove their personality from some element of that; actors always seem to have to force it slightly, they learn to build the barriers, building a character. Dancers donít do that. So we cast in such a way that their natural persona has to fit with the character so they are the character.


JM: What Punchdrunk do in particular is touch people.

FB: Rather than being for the intellectual, for the brain, Punchdrunk is for the body. And that comes down to atmosphere. We spend months trying to create an atmosphere that engulfs an audience, so you canít avoid being sucked into it.

JM: I think it goes beyond atmosphere, itís about experience.

FB: When we first started we were Punchdrunk Theatrical Experiences. I still have it on my email signature. I felt since day one that thatís what weíre offering thatís what it is.

JM: Iíd like to bring you back to one idea in particular that youíve referred to and is stated on your website, the idea of play being crucial; the idea of curiosity, and discovery and adventure being crucial to the event. But itís actually ludic; play that is spontaneous, dangerous, inherently subversive, and that to me underpins Punchdrunk work.


FB: I totally agree. Itís the same as when youíre little the games that you want to play are the ones youíre not allowed to and thatís where the thrill comes from. Punchdrunk events are just building a grown up playground in which audiences can relive that. When play is safe, itís not as much fun.

JM: Although your work does establish safety nets for the audience. They can be as safe or as dangerous as they want to be.

FB: Exactly. We never want to alienate the audience. Itís always about them. If they want to push it then itís there to be pushed, we can accommodate that. If they want to stay on the safe path, the beaten track then they can do and it will be just as rewarding an experience.

JM: And the audience members that it really doesnít work for, those that spoil it, donít get it, are those people who resist playing, who donít want to wear their masks. Something else I like about Punchdrunk, which follows on from that is the audience become a community, a community of individuals, but individuals who want to share an experience.

FB: Weíve had a number of criticisms in the past, saying that theatre is about building a community, the audience as a group who are there to experience something together. And weíve been criticised for alienating audiences by using the mask as a device. The mask allows you to work for yourself if you want to, but equally, they encourage you to feel all the more a unity because youíre all made the same.

JM: And they prevent the division between audience and performer because you actually become part of the form. In The Firebird Ball and Faust I became very aware of how the audience framed many of the sequences as they watched, they became like a beautiful sculpture, the masked, still bodies looking on, we literally became part of the architecture via those masks. So there are so many ways in which traditional divisions are being broken down.

FB: The mask is the most crucial part in a way. It gives you anonymity, you canít be recognised by the performers, a clear division is established between audience and performers yet youíre allowed to get as close as you want. It allows you to probe further then you would do. The mask allows you to function as a voyeur, as a camera because youíre more aware of where youíre looking, what you choose to see and your peripheral vision is slightly affected. Other audience members donít necessarily inform your experience, donít affect it, because they become part of the space. Theyíre ghosts, you can forget about them. They can melt into the aesthetic or they can form walls. And they can allow you to become really selfish, to be only concerned with how youíre reacting to it. Youíve got to make decisions.

JM: You talked before about the presence of the text. Something that is really evident in your work is that you turn to meaty theatrical sources, Shakespeare, Goethe. Clearly the texts that youíre choosing are inherently complex, they have their own beauty and lyricality, and a visceral language that already exists within the writing, so Iím interested in the fact that you then choose to take that language out. Why turn to these weighty texts and what is it that you appreciate in the verbal play and those intellectual ideas?

FB: The complexity thatís in these great works and the richness of the text. The detail, the minutiae of the text is then scattered over the piece, we make that the experience so itís a complex journey through. The reason why we use these great classics is, for a start the audience need a hook because the conventions take some getting used to. In order to empower the audience they need to feel that is a puzzle, a conundrum that they can grasp. They need to be able to piece together the history. Thatís why we never write a piece from scratch, there has to be that awakening, where it clicks for each individual.

JM: Is there something that remains of the visceral quality of the language that you have responded to?

FB: Yeah, but itís also about the time and place, the way the pentameter has an atmosphere in itself because it is so specific to that particular era. It feels as if itís from another land, itís otherworldly. So if you read something like Chekhov, which is a totally different time and a different balance in the writing style, but again it has a flavour to it that is, in itself, otherworldly. And itís that atmosphere that lies within the text. We try and flush out, deconstruct and scatter that across the building, thatís why I think using a contemporary play would be quite difficult as itís all drawing out, making that atmosphere three-dimensional.

JM: Are you saying you couldnít work with a Beckett or a Sarah Kane pay?

FB: Iím saying that when I read [certain play-texts], I can see it and I can see it in Punchdrunk conventions. But when I read Beckett, itís more difficult to see that.

JM: Because it only follows Beckett conventions?

FB: Yeah.

JM: You canít deconstruct it the same way.

FB: Because in [the texts Punchdrunk choose] the language is more complex, it feels like itís there to be opened up, you can rip it apart and look inside whereas a Kane play is quite obtuse and itís already opened up, all over the place. Because weíre reinventing something it has to start from something precious. Itís the same with opera; I canít wait to try that out. Weíre thinking about doing something with Bachís St. Matthew Passion. Thatís a really sacred work, so how dare we manipulate it; itís a weighty tome. But for that reason itís perfect, it will be fascinating to crawl up inside it and find what the first clarinet does all the way through.

JM: Itís like youíre viewing it in the same way that you talked about Shakespeareís work, in terms of the rhythm of the language, because Bachís work is intensely mathematical, he was also a mathematician, and itís like youíre breaking down those formulae. Youíre responding to something in the form itself that you also want to tear apart.

FB: When itís quite regimented then itís easier to find the vignettes within it.

JM: Also the idea of the canon, picking up a moment and following it through and feeling it become something different at any point.

FB: Thatís totally Punchdrunk, itís taking a couple of simple themes and they become omnipresent, wherever you go there are variations upon a theme, all over the building.

JM: That deconstructive idea that a certain element becomes something different at any moment, yet itís original form also always remains present, a trace. Ö Can you also talk about the other stimuli that are present in the work, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Edward Hopper? In particular the particular film aesthetic that you turn to. Are they intended simply as a playful comparison or is there something within those sources that youíre responding to? For example, I think that David Lynch films are highly visceral, so is it something experiential, not just thematic, that youíre turning to?

FB: Completely. Weíve tried many times to replicate his sound. They are his compositions, with [Angelo] Badalamenti. His sound design is the most impactive thing. We know in essence what the combinations are, we have the ingredients but we donít know what the secret formula is. I completely agree, his work is totally visceral. Ö Iíve discovered recently, I had to do a talk about process and what our starting point was, and I realised that music is what comes first. Unless I know what the music is for key scenes, the big pieces of music that shape it, and thus I can feel it inside of me, I canít start.

JM: So, to a certain extent, itís soundtracks rather than films in a way.

FB: Yeah, with Sleep No More it was Bernard Hermann rather than Hitchcock that we were influenced by. Itís to do with music that I can feel it. In the same way as with the text, you read it and you can feel it. I can see it once I can hear it.


JM: And there must be some connection to be made there between space, music and dance; choreographing and composing Ė those languages of performance that speak to and with each other.

FB: Although the funny thing is Iím very wary of those huge bits of music, the money shots in the show, not being choreographed because itís like overkill. The choreography works on its own and provides itís own potency and power for that scene.

JM: Thatís true, apart from the big set dance scenes; the dances occur without soundscores, they create their own sound, the impact of body against body and the body in space.

FB: It makes it more of a living world, where the performers are getting on with what they do, regardless of sound. So the times where it does click in together, makes it all the more powerful.

JM: Could you talk further about what Max has referred to as Ďthe unseen wordsí? You mentioned earlier how we follow Calibanís narrative; strategies that offer us access to these texts in a multidimensional way. So, letís bring it back to working with bodies in space to reveal the unseen that exists in the text. Max has talked about the psychology of characters and being able to access that through the space in order that the ineffable is opened up, something intangible is made tangible, moments are shared, understood.

FB: The performers are the characters and they have to believe it for themselves. A large part of the process for the performers has to be experiential. So they could hypothesise about that character but itís the first introduction to the space, where they get to explore it and ply with it and push it. To have that first childlike sense of discovery that aids them, so they get to respond in the same way as the audience, so they feel the corridors that are threatening, they find their own safe spaces. That first day we have with the cast on site is such an important tool. It letís them build their character and leave memories all over the space, rather than just stepping in and using it as a stage. In terms of the space being able to solve the conundrums for them, we try and make sure that each character has their own space that is their home, their base. We should be able to learn as much from that space about that character, regardless of whether theyíre in it or not. So I suppose, because they get to build out in that way, make it three-dimensional then they really do exist in that place, they become wholly tangible. Ö I think the reason why Max and I collaborate so well together is that I think about the space affecting the psychology of the audience and I donít worry so much about the performers in that environment. Whereas thatís what Max does, what sheís fantastic at, weíre like chalk and cheese.

JM: Sheís thinking about how the space affects and shapes that physical language of the dancers.

FB: For me itís all about the audience, the performers are there as tools to accentuate the impact of that space.

JM: Is there anything new youíve discovered in this large-scale production of Faust that you want to take further now?

FB: Yes, to do with form and structure. We realised at the end of Firebirdís Ball that it wasnít finite enough; it needed a sense of conclusion for the audience to feel satisfied. In the early days the shows would run ad infinitum until the last member of the audience left, so it was a real world, totally controlled by the audience. Obviously, practically that doesnít work because the poor cast become tired. So the one thing weíre getting closer to solving as a result of Faust is the need for a finite ending so that the audience can feel that theyíve got it. The most interesting thing for us with Faust was pulling everyone down to the basement for Faustís downfall, which was the most conventional space, itís like being in a studio in a way, and then your next door to the bar, thatís it, show over. So coaxing people in in such a way that it happens organically.

JM: And, in a way, within that discipline and structure there is a liberation. Timeís kaleidoscoping around you and you can experience the event in a completely non-linear way and then retrace steps, go back, and find that resolution.

FB: Itís the sense of completion, you get that final image. I think that means weíre getting dangerously close to conventional theatre, the idea that the curtain comes down, so it becomes less gallery, less installation and more theatre because of that structure.

JM: But you never feel that, you never feel that the curtainís come down, you always feel that itís still going on, itís existing without you. Ö Obviously Punchdrunkís work is being discussed in critical and academic circles now so Iíd like to know your views on that. In particular what effects, if any, you think that analysis and interrogation has on the work?

FB: I think itís crucially important in a way. For me as a practitioner, I know that the only way I can work is to rely on instinct. So itís almost like the polar opposite, because if I think about it too much then I would question decisions. I think itís so important that that analysis does happen elsewhere, so that the work exists in this climate. Itís fascinating, the responses that people have on different levels, from the pure, immediate response, because it is so experiential, so emotional, to the critical analysis, the deconstruction of how and why it does that. Considering that the work is all about deconstruction anyway, deconstructing a source, it stands to reason that the form then needs to be deconstructed.

JM: So the work requires something that is mutually sympathetic. A way of analysing that meets the workings of the performance, and allows that play to continue. The very act of intellectualising is entering into that play.

FB: Yes. Itís very interesting for me because I now want to go and think about some of the questions that youíve raised, because the form is so immediate -

JM: So itís about finding a method of analysis that holds on to that immediacy, that doesnít destroy the work in the process of explaining it, but instead, opens it up.

FB: Itís so important that itís about discovery, and apprehension, and destroying preconceptions. Weíre really wary about any publicity for the show. More and more people are hearing about what itís like so they may come with preconceptions of the show. It canít become formulaic.

JM: The practice and the thinking around that practice must always expand, must never close itself off.

FB: Itís like, the press that really get it, donít say much in their reviews about what it is.

JM: No, youíre right, they talk about feeling, the effect that the piece had on them, using words like Ďintoxicationí.

FB: And those that just list everything the saw donít say anything about what they felt, which just seems peculiar and a bit wrong and it just undermines what weíre all about.


Links: http:www.punchdrunk.org.uk

Punchdrunkís latest event is The Masque of the Red Death at Battersea Arts Centre, London. September 2007 onwards. See the above link for details.

Felix Barrett

Felix Barrett is Artistic Director of Punchdrunk.


Josephine Machon

Josephine set up the Physical Theatre Programme at St. Maryís College, Twickenham and has recently joined the academic team at Brunel University. She has co-edited Performance and Technology: Practices of Virtual Embodiment and Interactivity (2006) with Susan Broadhurst and is in the process of writing (Syn)aesthetics Ė Towards a Definition of Visceral Performance. Her current practice is concerned with the playful encounters that exist between the body, text, space and technologies. Josephine is Sub-Editor for Body, Space & Technology.