2012 Dialektikon Proposal



What exists now of the event – Peter Davis’ film ANATOMY OF VIOLENCE plus out-takes; transcripts; recordings; photographs; books; contemporary interviews on film; memories

Subjects of debate – violence; the Vietnam war; racism; Third World poverty; psychiatry as a means of control; the nation state; the mind-body link; shamanism; drugs; sex; ecology; climate change; the political role of art; rethinking left ideals to make a better world


What I’m doing is putting the transcript material together to make a series of short scenes of debate between the principal characters, each scene with its own theme but moving progressively along the underlying line of argument.

ACT I takes the dark material – violence, the Vietnam war, racism, psychiatry as oppression

ACT II is open, to do with the mind-body relationship, hippies, drugs, education, spiritual wisdom, building utopia – but also the gathering storm of climate change

Behind the action there’s a screen showing some of the rich material from the event, concentrating on faces and also the whole 60’s atmosphere of the place.

Because the speakers are all male and the arguments are largely intellectual – however passionate, however engaging – I think for a contemporary audience there will need to be some form of counter-balance. My suggestion would be to have interludes between each scene, using very different kinds of theatre to complement and reflect on the scenes; these could maybe be performed by a small group of women.

There’s much from the original event that could be used –

Ginsberg’s chanting, music

maybe the artists Gustav Metzger and Carolee Schneemann would advise on or even produce new work for us?

poetry by Ginsberg and Thich Nhat Hanh

from the Living Theatre, the building and destruction of a new Frankenstein’s monster?

Contemporary material -

discussion among the women bringing the scenes up to date (eg Vietnam to Iraq)

a therapist and patient – modern anxieties

or maybe a scene from David Edgar’s MARY BARNES, with his & Dr Berke’s permission?

a Punch and Judy show mimicking contemporary right-wing attitudes (copying Blair?)

Using the screen to show -

other scenes that fit (war, violence, mourning etc.)

contemporary interviews with participants

The audience should participate – Maybe at the end of Act I anyone who chooses not to go to the bar can stay and debate any of the Act’s topics with one or two of the actors;

at the end of the performance everyone is invited to stay for a grand debate. (Short acts…)