CIVIL (1996)

 

 

A live performance about liberty and disobedience.

In 1996 Robert Pacitti travelled to New York to meet and spend time with the author, raconteur and professional homosexual Quentin Crisp. Pacitti’s ambition was to produce a new theatre work that took Crisp’s infamous autobiography The Naked Civil Servant as its’ starting point.

Wishing to explore issues around disobedience and liberty Robert saw Quentin as a forerunner to many of the then queer / post-gay identities of the day. Crisp had always run the gauntlet of public disapproval and at the time of their meeting Pacitti wrote of him "I have seen the face of a parent”.

Having returned to England Robert set about editing the materials generated during his time in America: interviews with Quentin, Super 8 film , slide images, sound recordings and writings.

Civil premiered in Manchester in 1996, opening the Queer Up North Festival for that year. A cast of five performed the work. Almost three months later Pacitti performed the work again, overhauled and reworked as a solo piece for the Institute Of Contemporary Arts in London.

When Quentin died in 1999 Robert was invited to perform at his memorial. This event impacted on how Robert subsequently felt about Civil, and a work focussing on liberty was now underscored with a sense of loss. Knowing this was not his intention for the piece, but also feeling that the work was still politically relevant, Robert passed Civil on to Dicky Eton as a new performer. The pair went to NYC to create some new Super 8 and video materials, to make the work pertinent to Dicky's presence onstage. Everything else remained the same.

Civil was then performed by Dicky for a number of years.   

In the words of journalist Pancho Sanchez, writing in ‘La Cronica De La Hoy’ Mexico City, Civil is “the perfect argument by Pacitti”.

 

A seamless flow of beautifully crafted, intelligent images
Christopher Hewitt – Live Art Magazine