Donald Urquhart

PLAGUES is a new production co-commissioned for Studio Voltaire, London and Transmission Gallery, Glasgow by artist Donald Urquhart. The piece will feature a group of actors performing a live “radio play” with costume changes, sound effects and songs.

Urquhart has been presenting dramatic productions both live and on radio since 1993. PLAGUES takes the form of a live fictional “radio play” performed by six actors, seated with microphones as if broadcasting on live radio. With conventional radio sound effects (coconuts, trays of gravel, etc.,) and costume changes onstage behind a specially designed screen, PLAGUES will blur the boundary between theatre, cabaret, radio and performance. The performance concerns various types of plagues (plagues of the mind, infestations, curses and invasions), all delivered in camp comic style. As usual, Urquhart’s melodramatic and tragicomic satire will be tinged with vitriol and black humour as he takes us through this three-act drama. Before the interval Urquhart will screen his film L’Entr’acte (2006), which is set ‘backstage’ between acts one and two of a play. The film features some of the actors who will be performing in Plagues, suggesting real backstage drama. The artist will design and make a dramatic stage set, including his drawings that Urquhart has always used to transform the performance space. In keeping with the artist’s history as club host, Plagues will incorporate the audience, and will conclude in an evening of song and dance.

Plagues is a Studio Voltaire (London) and Transmission Gallery (Glasgow) co-commission. Supported by The Elephant Trust.

About the artist

Donald Urquhart (b. 1963) gained increasing prominence in the 1990s for his camp drag performance night, The Beautiful Bend, at Central Station, London. As a part of a tradition of 1980s club performance alongside luminaries such as Leigh Bowery, Urquhart’s dark and high camp performances incorporated a number of friends and acquaintances as performers, alongside his co-host Sheila Tequila. For each club night, Urquhart would create photocopied black and white posters to be pasted around the venue, depicting cartoonish characterisations of camp figures, representations of queer icons, literary personalities and fictional characters from various sources including television, stage and film. Urquhart’s work has gained increasing prominence in the UK and internationally in recent years. The artist has recently had solo exhibitions at Jack Hanley, San Francisco (2008); Maureen Paley, London (2007), White Columns, New York (2007) and Herald St, London (2006). Previous performances include The House of Tears, Art Perform/ Art Basel Miami Beach (2007) and Noir Noel, The Horse Hospital/Artangel (2003).

Image credit

Donald Urquhart, PLAGUES, 2008. Performance, Saturday May 10 2008, Studio Voltaire, London. Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire, London.