To Bodies Gone is the first study of one of the most significant voices of modern international theatre, one of Wales’s leading writers, and one of the most compelling and beautiful bodies of artistic work in the last fifty years. Written by an assistant and friend with an intimate and personal knowledge of Gill’s processes and values, To Bodies Gone explores a career extraordinary in its consistency, developing the clear ideas set of early productions that reach extraordinary heights in the mature work.
The principle theme is the aesthetic Gill introduced to theatre, and which has remained the bedrock of his work, in its various manifestations and developments across several decades. Norris terms this the ‘theatre of Van Gogh’ – just as Van Gogh stared at a pair of boots and revealed them as beautiful by the way he saw and by giving them the light of attention, so Gill’s work as a writer and director has consistently revealed the daily world as extraordinary. Analysing the phases of his career in broadly chronological, this study places Gill in the wider context of the theatre, providing a snapshot of theatre in the second half of the twentieth century and contributing new insights to the study of theatre history.
To Bodies Gone includes chapters on Gill’s early work, influences (Lawrence, Chekhov, Beckett), his translations and adaptations (Lawrence, Chekhov, Wedekind, Faulkner), his directing career at the Royal Court, Riverside Studios, National Theatre and NT Studio, plus his major plays – Small Change, Kick for Touch, In the Blue, Cardiff East, The York Realist and his 2014 set at the Versailles peace conference. The result is a major study full of insight into Gill and into British Theatre, and something of a manifesto for Norris’ own view of the future for contemporary theatre.