Peter Barnes (1931-2004), British playwright and screenwriter, presents a writing especially characterized by its satirical and anti-naturalistic style. The play “The Ruling Class” (1968), which he himself adapted to film in 1972 with the participation of Peter O’Toole, was one of his greatest successes as an author. An admirer of Frank Wedekind, Ben Jonson and Georges Feydeau, Barnes built an original writing, although influenced by Elizabethan theater, medieval farces, German expressionist drama or commedia dell’arte. His play Red Noses (1985) won the Laurence Olivier Prize, awarded annually by the Society of London Theatre, the highest award in British theater.
An imaginative and unorthodox writer, he combined unconventional dramatic sensibilities with an eccentric wit in a discreet blend of grotesque and corrosive satire, criticizing Parliament, the Church, education, the British Empire, and particularly the upper classes.
A prolific writer for theater, cinema, and television, he deals with themes such as hypocrisy, the corruption of the privileged and the despotic, with humor and literary references shaping his theatrical styles that range from tragedy to cabaret theater.
Always taking a critical and counter-current stance, the premiere of a Barnes’ play always generated an exciting event; all his work was marked by a passionate belief in the idea that a joke, even when it is only a “diversion” from reality, may well be an instrument of change. Consistent, nimble and effective retorts behind an abundance of invention with “borrowings” from Shakespeare, Verdi, the Marx Brothers or WC Fields, are part of his creative universe. Barnes believed in the subversive power of laughter.
Although he was not exactly considered a fashionable playwright, some of his plays were nevertheless produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court.
In the last years of his life, Barnes devoted himself increasingly to film, television and radio. In 1993 he was nominated for the Academy Award for best screenplay.
CORPSING (1996), is the generic name of the show that includes a set of three short plays in one act, (Help with Humor, Waiting for a Bus, Acting Exercises). A meta-theatrical play anchored in the contrast of opposites that simultaneously combine “the absurdly tragic and the tragically absurd”.
4 – 10€
Teatro Municipal Sá de Miranda – Experimental Room
7 May 2022
Teatro das Beiras
Gil Salgueiro Nave
Scenography and Costumes
Fernando Landeira, Sílvia Morais, Susana Gouveia e Tiago Moreira