The Skriker

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The Skriker
Written by Caryl Churchill
Characters Lily
Date premiered 1994 (1994)
Place premiered Royal National Theatre, London
Original language English
Subject Post-natal psychosis, Possession
Genre Epic dance theatre

The Skriker is a 1994 play by Caryl Churchill that tells the story of an ancient fairy who, during the course of the play, transforms into a plethora of objects and people as it pursues Lily and Josie, two teenage mothers whom it befriends, manipulates, seduces and entraps. Whilst speaking English in its human incarnations, the Skriker’s own language consists of broken and fragmented word play. Blending naturalism, horror and magical realism, it is a story of love, loss and revenge. As with Churchill's A Mouthful of Birds (1986), the play explores the themes of post-natal psychosis and possession.


1996 American Debut at New York's Public Theater starring Jayne Atkinson, Caroline Seymour, Angie Phillips with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ensemble Cast

By Caryl Churchill; directed by Mark Wing-Davey; sets and costumes by Marina Draghici; lighting by Christopher Akerlind; sound by John Gromada; composer, Judith Weir; additional music, Mr. Gromada; musical director, Martin Goldray; choreography by Sara Rudner; production stage manager, James Latus. Associate producer, Wiley Hausam; artistic associate, Kevin Kline; production manager, Bonnie Metzgar. Presented by the Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, George C. Wolfe, producer; Rosemarie Tichler, artistic producer; Joey Parnes, executive producer; Laurie Beckelman, executive director. At 425 Lafayette Street, East Village.

WITH: Jayne Atkinson (the Skriker), Angie Phillips (Lily), Caroline Seymour (Josie), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Raw Head and Bloody Bones), Jodi Melnick (Passer-by) Diana Rice (Dead Child), Jack Shamblin (Man With Cloth And Bucket), Valda Setterfield

In November, 2006, The Virtual Theatricality Lab at Henry Ford College staged the play using 3D stereo digital technology and motion capture to create the scenery, creatures and faries. It was directed by George Popovich. Digital scenery, creatures and animations were by Christopher Dozier.

In 2011, Arizona State University produced the play. It was directed by Joya Scott, Scenic Design by Jeannie Beirne, Lighting Design by Troy Buckey, Costume Design by Samantha Armitage, Media Design by Micah Stieglitz, and Sound Design by Dustin Chaffin. In November 2011, it was performed at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. It was directed by Rebecca Frank, and choreographed by Jeffrey Gunshol, with masks carved by Ida Bagus Anom. In February 2012 the play was performed at Purchase College, SUNY directed by Genee Coreno.

The play was staged in October, 2012, at the Erickson Theater in Seattle, WA. Produced and directed by Janice Findley, co-produced by Curtis Taylor, and choreographed by Pat Graney. Production design by Timothy Siciliano, costume design by Eve Cohen, lightning design by Amiya Brown, and music by Paul Hansen. Mary Ewald as The Skriker, Mariel Neto as Josie, and Jessica Martin as Lily. Dancers included Christian Swenson, Aaron Swartzman, Cathy Sutherland, Sruti Desai, Amelia Reeber, and Esme DeCoster.

July 2015 - staged at The Royal Exchange in Manchester. Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival and the Royal Exchange Theatre. BY CARYL CHURCHILL WITH MUSIC BY NICO MUHLY AND ANTONY.

The Skriker Maxine Peake

Josie Laura Elsworthy

Lily Juma Sharkah

Ensemble Sarah Amankwah

Ensemble Harry Attwell

Ensemble Alex Austin

Ensemble Hannah Hutch

Ensemble Martins Imhangbe

Ensemble Kate Jackson

Ensemble Stuart Overington

Ensemble Beatrice Scirocchi

Ensemble Andrew Sheridan

Ensemble Jessica Walker

Ensemble Leah Walker

Ensemble Owen Whitelaw


One of the play's most unusual features is its eponymous protagonist's language, Graham Wolfe has drawn connections with Lacan's lalangue, which Mladen Dolar defines as “the concept of what in language makes puns possible”:[1] "For all the Skriker’s monstrous malevolence, such an admirer of homonyms ('sham pain', 'morning becomes electric') could hardly scoff at Lacan, whose later seminars bear such titles as Les non-dupes errent (les nommes du père) and Encore (en-corps, en coeur), confronting us with creatures named parlêtre (par la lettre) and sinthome (symptom, synthetic homme, saint Thomas). Not even the Skriker’s wildest homonymic explosions — 'no mistake no mister no missed her no mist no miss no me no' (9) — are a match for some of Lacan’s most famous riffs: jouissance, j’ouïs-sens, jouis-sens, jouis-sans . . ." (Wolfe 89).[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Dolar, Mladen. A Voice and Nothing More. Cambridge: MIT, 2006.
  2. ^ Wolfe, Graham. "Shapeshifting in Caryl Churchill's The Skriker". Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 22.2 (2011): 234–256