New Theatre Quarterly

Ancestral and Authorial Voices in Lloyd Newson and DV8's ‘Strange Fish’

Janet Lansdale 

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Lloyd Newson has worked in Europe for some twenty-three years with DV8 Physical Theatre, creating powerful socio-political pieces which address sexuality and interpersonal relationships. These works are generally created with performers through workshop processes and collaboratively with composers. London's experimental dance and theatre scenes in the 1980s and early 1990s provided a challenging context for Lloyd Newson's early creative endeavours. Here, Janet Lansdale takes one work, Strange Fish, as the locus of her discussion on narrative positions in relation to dominant forms of modern dance and issues of sexuality, homophobia, and politics within physical theatre. She conceptualizes and contextualizes ‘voices’ as ‘authorial’ and ‘ancestral’, and traces their manifestation in readings of the work. Complementary and sometimes competing voices from author, text, reader, and cultural history are articulated through a range of intertextual perspectives. This is the second in a series of articles on this work. Janet Lansdale is Distinguished Professor in Dance Studies at the University of Surrey, where she was Head of Department, and later Head of the School of Performing Arts. She is the author and editor of four books on dance theory, history, and analysis, the most recent being Dancing Texts: Intertextuality in Interpretation (1999).