The Playlist: David Glass

The acclaimed physical theatre performer, director and educator brings us his picks from the print archive

In the 1980s, David Glass spearheaded the physical theatre movement and toured as a solo artist to over 40 countries. He was one of the founder members of Mime Action Group, which later became Total Theatre. In the 1990s he established The David Glass Ensemble in order to explore collaborative ensemble theatre, creating acclaimed productions such as Gormenghast, Les Enfants de Paradis, and The Lost Child Project, a participatory theatre project working with street children in fifteen countries. He has subsequently founded and facilitated numerous acclaimed theatre projects worldwide.


1. Indian Independents

This caught my eye. I have been lucky to have worked in over 70 countries and have watched the development of Intercultural work. It was inevitable that Peter Brook and Mnouchkine would both come in for criticism. I think in both of their cases, they were simply looking for good relevant stories to tell.

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2. The Works: Dreamthinkspeak

One of the early companies that explored site-specific and ‘redesigned’ spaces. I always felt they understood the necessity theatre had for liminal space – when space moves from the literal to the partially dreamt. Their work reminded me of growing up in LA, when my mother worked on film sets. These were real and not real at the same time.

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3. Living Structures: Moby Dick – The Formless Phantom

Having done my own very free adaption of Moby Dick with Leah Haussmann and Peta Lily many years ago, but never having seen Living Structures, I was very interested in this idea. (Editor’s note: the article is the third of a series, in which the company Living Structures explore and record the creation of the show, over a number of months.) Coincidence would have it that my present producer Natalie Richardson was their producer at the time. In this situation, listening to her speak about the show is all I need to have. One day I’d like to do a show where all there is are the descriptions of theatre.

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4. David Glass Ensemble: Disembodied

I don’t usually spend much time in reading my past reviews – though a lot of people are asking me to write an autobiography… Once the work is done, it’s done and it’s really up to the audience to reflect on what has occurred. This was a special piece that brought me together with Tom Morris. It was an episodic and dreamlike piece. Tom was midway between BAC and The National. It was a case of us both needing something to distract our minds from changes happening in our lives.

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5. Prospero’s Island

My path crossed a few times with Eugenio Barba and Odin Teatret, and I have taught a number of his company over the years. This extraordinary experiment in Theatre Anthropology was an inspiration to us all. In a way, Eugenio was pointing the way to the interdependence of all humans and culture that is vital now if we are to survive. It does not surprise me that as I write this Eugenio has stepped down as artistic director and leader of Odin Teatret.

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