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Fiona Templeton

Fiona Templeton


Fiona Templeton is a playwright, poet and director who works internationally, specializing in site-specific presentations of adventurous new work, often on an epic scale.  She is artistic director and founder of New York based performance group, The Relationship.  Her 1988 piece, YOU-The City, pioneered the genre of the theatre journey, and was re-created in 8 European cities.  Since then she has received commissions in many cities worldwide, such as JIJ-De Stad, a key project of Rotterdam 2001 European Cultural Capital, and L’Ile, commissioned for the opening of Lille European Cultural Capital 2004, which covered 50 locations across the city, recreating the dreams of its inhabitants.  

She received the 2003 theatre award from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, 3 fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts in both performance and playwriting, and 2 from the National Endowment for the Arts in both poetry and visual arts new genres.  She was Senior Writer Fellow at Cambridge University 96-7. 

She co-founded London’s Theatre of Mistakes in the 70s; the company’s work had a seminal influence on European performance.  They performed internationally, & published Elements of Performance Art.  She is the US translator of plays by recent Nobel awardee Elfriede Jelinek; and directed her Sickness or Modern Women.

Since the late 90s she developed The Medead, a 6-part epic, with funding from the MAP Fund, Mabou Mines/Suite, Theatre Communications Group / International Theatre Institute, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Arts & Humanities Research Board, and North West Arts.  Parts 4-6 were produced at Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland in December 2005.  In 2006 Part 1 was produced at 15 Nassau in New York, and Parts 1-3 at Fort Jay on Governor’s Island, New York Harbor.

With her company The Relationship, recent work includes a staging of Flow by the late San Francisco poet Leslie Scalapino (at Poets’ House & Dixon Place, NYC, and at ODC San Francisco); Going with Coming, a play containing a game (at Chasahama, Dixon Place and Danspace for the Movement Research Festival, NYC, and at the Puerto Rico International Theater Festival); and 365 Days/365 Plays by Suzan Lori Parks, at over 14 sites in the New York triborough area.  Works in progress include Michael Gottlieb’s The Dust for the 10th anniversary of 9/11; John Jesurun’s new work Stopped Bridge of Dreams; Templeton’s new work The Blue, and a concert version of The Medead in collaboration with composer/vocalist Samita Sinha.  Cells of Release, her installation throughout a cell block in Philadelphia’s former State Penitentiary, 1995, was a collaboration with Amnesty International.  Recognition, with her late collaborator Michael Ratomski, at the Kitchen 1996 & ICA, London, concerned the representation and understanding of death.  She performed live in dialogue with Ratomski on video.

Her early solo Thought/Death showed in East Village New York (04-5) at the New Museum.  That period included large-scale site-specific work (Defense at Creative Time’s Art on The Beach, 1982); & collaborations including Julian Maynard Smith, Anna Kohler, Steve Buscemi and Elliott Sharp.






Recorded in Islington, north London, on 27 January 2011

Medea in Athens



  • Medea in Aia (The Medead Part 1), Belladonna, New York 2009
  • Going, play, co-written in the 70s with Anthony Howell and The Theatre of Mistakes, London 2007
  • Mum in Airdrie, poem, Object Permanence books, Glasgow, Scotland, 2005
  • Delirium of Interpretations, an antibiographical play, Green Integer Press, L.A. 2003
  • oops the join (for Siobhan's drawings), poems, Rempress, Cambridge, 1997
  • Cells of Release, installation text with photographs, Roof Books, New York, 1997
  • Hi Cowboy, book-length prose poem, Mainstream, London, April 1997
  • YOU - The City, playtext/directions/photos/theory, Roof Books, NYC 1990
  • London, book-length prose poem, Sun & Moon Press, D.C. 1984
  • Elements of Performance Art, theory/exercises, with Anthony Howell, Ting, London 1976


  • "Against Agreement" in The Kenning Anthology Of Poets Theater 1945-1985, ed. Kevin Killian, Chicago & San Francisco:  Kenning Editions 2009
  • Openned Anthology, ebook online at, 2007
  • Moving Borders, an anthology of U.S. women poets, 1998
  • Gertrude Stein Awards Annuals 1993-4, & 1994-5, Sun & Moon, L.A.
  • Out of Everywhere, innovative women poets in the US and UK, Reality Street editions, London 1995
  • From the Other Side of the Century Sun & Moon Press Poetry Anthology, L.A. 1994
  • The Art of Practice: 45 contemporary poets Potes & Poets, Hartford 1994
  • Out from Under, women performance artists, ed Lenora Champagne, TCG, NYC 1990


Magazines (poetry/theatre/performance texts) 

No journal, Providence 02,07; Kiosk 1, Buffalo 02; PAJ, Johns Hopkins, 01; Primary Writing 22 DC 2k; Salt, Fremantle 98; Southfields 4 UK 97; Subvoicive 8, London 97; Object Permanence 8,4, Glasgow 97,95; No Roses Chicago 96; Tongue to Boot London 96; Raddle Moon 15,12, Vancouver 96,93; Torque, NYC 96; Object 3, NYC 94; Chain1, Buffalo 94; Lyric& 3, SF 94; Writing 28, Vancouver 93; Conjunctions 20, NYC 93; Big Allis 5,1, NYC 93,89; Pessimistic Labor 2 LA 87; Boundary2 Binghamton 87; JAA 6 NYC 85; Appearances 9 NYC 83; ABC No Rio 83;  Sun & Moon 11, 81; Partisan Review, NYC 77; Wallpaper 6 London 76. 

Journal articles

  • "Acting Brackets:  on directing Leslie Scalapino’s Flow", article in Jacket Magazine, issue on Poets’ Theatre, ed. John Beer, 2010
  • "Speaking for Performance", in Sensualities/Textualities & Technologies, Palgrave MacMillan, London 2010
  • Introduction to 3 plays by John Jesurun, No Passport, New York 2009
  • from Elements of Performance Art, in Factorial, Providence and Tokyo, 2003
  • "Resisting Memorialisation" conversation with Andrew Quick, Performance Research Journal, 2001
  • "Excavation (On editing)", Performance Research Journal, 2001
  • "Apron Staging", (artefact/article), in Shattered Anatomies, Arts Council of England, Bristol, 1997
  • "Real Dead & Fake Living", (on hybrid forms) Chain 3 vol 2, Buffalo 1996
  • "Art in context - Betontanc in New York" (on viewing other-culture work), Maske 5, Ljubljana 1994
  • "Editing: a gender perspective", forum in Chain 1, Buffalo 1994
  • "Talk About About": Segue Talks, NY 1990; in Raddle Moon 12, Vancouver 93; Gertrude Stein Awards 1994-95
  • "The politics of some forms of improvisation", Poetry Project Newsletter, NY 1991
  • "My Work Telling the Story of Narrative in it" Poetics Journal 5, San Francisco 1985


Online Recordings

  • Openned Anthology, ebook, London 2007
  • Monologues from The Medead, originally broadcast on WKCR New York, 2003, archived at Penn Sound, University Of Pennsylvania
  • Linebreak audio program, archived at Electronic Poetry Centre, University of Buffalo 1995

Online Writings



"A city-wide play for an audience of one, YOU the City is a mysterious 2- hour tour of London in the company of a succession of performers. Using London as a magnificent natural backdrop YTC is an unforgettable exploration of the relationships between actors and their public, pedestrians and their city." (Chain).  

"A brilliant theatrical voyage", "seamlessly directed – worthy of MI5 or the CIA" (High Performance)

"Unlike such promenade performances as recent off-broadway plays, with their vicarious yet still distanced thrills, You-The City was the collective consciousness of the city."

Recent critical writing on Fiona Templeton’s work includes:

  • Article by James Sherry in Postmodern Culture Volume 20, Number 1, September 2009;
  • Laura Hinton, 'This is not a Barbie Doll with Horns', Chant de la Sirene blog June 2010, 
  • Poetry Foundation blog, by Thom Donovan
  • Caroline Bergvall, on Cells of Release, Jacket Magazine online 2005
  • Geraldine Harris, "Foreshadowing and after blows", Studies in Theatre & Performance 2004
  • Interview with Sarah Riggs, Chain 2004
  • Nick Kaye, Multimedia Performance 2005
  • Eleanor Margolies, "Ventriloquism:  Kantor, Templeton and the Voices of the Dead", New Theatre Quarterly, fall 2000
  • Andrew Quick, "Resisting Memorialisation", interview, Performance Research, winter 2000;
  • Susan Vanderborg, "This is not a Threshold: disrupting the Prison Sentence in Fiona Templeton's Cells of Release", MLA paper 1999
  • Redell Olsen, "Degrees of Liveness, Live and Electronic Subjects: Leslie Scalapino, Fiona Templeton and Carla Harryman", How2 2003
  • Stanton B Garner, in Land/Scape/Theatre, Eleanor Fuchs & Una Chaudhuri eds, 2002
  • Redell Olsen "Robert Smithson’s Site/Non-Site in Carla Harryman, Bernadette Mayer and Fiona Templeton", in Additional Apparitions: Poetry, Performance & Site Specificity, eds. Kennedy & Tuma 2002
  • Nick Kaye, Site-SpecificPerformance, Routledge 2000.

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