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PRELUDE Festival 2023


Salome, or the Cult of the Clitoris: A Historical Phallusy

The Goat Exchange



90 Minutes

5:00PM EST

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, 5th Avenue, New York, NY, USA

"In the whole world there is no king who has peacocks like unto my peacocks. But I will give them all to you."

SALOME, OR THE CULT OF THE CLITORIS: A HISTORICAL PHALLUSY is a verbatim theatre piece devised from the transcripts of the 1918 libel trial of Noel Pemberton Billing and the text of Oscar Wilde’s Salome around which the trial revolved. Internationally renowned dancer Maud Allan was starring in a private performance of Salome, a play still banned for its radical depictions of female sexuality. In an elaborate publicity stunt before a reelection campaign, British MP, conspiracy theorist, and conservative firebrand Noel Pemberton Billing published a defamatory article titled “The Cult of the Clitoris,” accusing Allan of secretly conspiring with a ring of lesbian secret agents to sabotage the British war-effort. Allan was not simply performing in a play, Billing argued—she was seducing the wives of high-ranking British officers, and generally participating in the insidious feminization of the British public through art and culture. When Allen sued him for libel, he fought back publicly, in court—contending that not only had he not defamed Allen, but everything he had written was true.

This performance will be a staged reading workshopping materials gathered from 500 pages of verbatim court transcript.

Content / Trigger Description:

Co- Directed by Mitchell Polonsky and Chloe Claudel
Lighting: Finn Bamber

THE GOAT EXCHANGE is an international ensemble making crazy potatoes theater and live art since 2016. We work with a wide variety of source materials from classic plays to bold new writing, to films, poetry, prose, verbatim historical transcripts and found texts, often pulling from obscure, forgotten corners of history. Our work is interdisciplinary and deeply collaborative, incorporating wide-ranging influences from opera, dance, literature, film, vaudeville, slapstick, pop-culture, and public art. We have developed over 20 productions both in traditional theaters and in a range of site-specific venues, from museum galleries to swimming pools to football stadiums.

Recent work includes DEADCLASS, OHIO (Ice Factory), MEMONICA (HERE Arts Center), JASON (Vault Festival) and 7 BLOWJOBS (La Mama).

Watch Recording

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