"Enter Achilles"

Comment on DV8's piece "Enter Achilles", seen on video Nov 30th, 1999

DV8 is the best-established British physical theatre company, and the film "Enter Achilles" shows their trademarks: humorous and actionfilled movement sequences, characters, dramatic tensions...

The piece is about male attitudes, or rather laddish brutality, depicted through a stereotyped group of men at the pub. One is different, he prefers more romantic music, he sings, he moves more delicately and slightly effeminate, and the rest of the group effectively isolates him. This narrative of prejudice and exclusion runs through the entire film.

The message is clear, the images are strong, it is well performed, and well translated to the television screen. The only thing lacking, is a target audience.

To change attitudes, DV8 would have to target the piece either at lads like those they caricature, or demonstrate how certain of these attitudes exist in everyone. I believe the strong stereotyping prevent both these strategies from working:

Since the only alternative male figure in the film, is the "different" man, a target audience of lads might get their prejudices strengthened: the piece seems to confirm that the only alternative to laddish behaviour is to be effeminate.

Targeted at other audiences, the main message appears as "look how bad these people are". In this case, the piece supports our prejudices, and fails to provoke a look at ourselves to see if we share their behaviour of exclusion.

In both cases, "Enter Achilles" sadly does not work as intended.


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From Beckie     on 2005-06-22 09:54:39

i think thats very stupid and closed mind for you to state half the things you did about enter achilles. If your not mature enough to watch productions like this dont bother, and most certainly dont go writing up about it, stating almost everything incorrectly. If you open your eyes, that piece goes alot deeper and it is up to you what you get from it.

From kala     on 2005-06-25 00:47:38

i agree wiv Becky!

From nix     on 2005-09-23 06:42:40

i agree wit becky and i studied this for my gcse dance and it does go alot deeper u just have to be matrue enough to realise that

From Hallvord     on 2005-10-31 03:39:10

If you aren't mature enough to actually discuss the points I was making..

I admire DV8, I really do. But I also believe that first impressions from someone outside the "mindset" a piece is made in are extremely valuable. In that spirit I jotted down the first ideas and feelings I had about this particular piece.

Today I think my criticisms were a bit short-sighted. I think DV8's work is about a long-term vision. They are trying to shift "cultural attitudes", a very slow process that does not happen overnight. It's like the process of women getting rights to vote and work - that process developed across centuries. I can see where DV8 are coming from.

From luci     on 2005-10-31 04:10:51

i think that the story told primarly through the language of movement and gesture.Newson's creation of the terifying of and brutal world in which sensitivity and vunerablity,are sought out and estroyed in a very descriptive and detailed.the fact that much of the action takes place in the the pressure of a masculitity enviroment, the pub is genious and i would watch it again i loved it, i think that the fact newson chose an all stright cast just demonstrates this in the lifes that we ive : )

From vikki     on 2005-12-12 02:59:03

try studing degree level dane and you will understand the piece better :)

From Hallvord     on 2005-12-30 06:13:43

Vikki: what you are saying is that one needs to study dance to understand this piece?? Given that Lloyd Newson presumably is trying to change the attitudes of lads who never studied dance, that would be a bad thing, no?

Part of what I'm trying to understand and discuss is how people without dance background might respond to this work. I'm not interested in the sort of closed-minded statement that goes "this piece intends to communicate x, so it does y". I don't want to say "this piece intends to criticise certain masculine gender roles, so it must be making people more tolerant of differences". It is much harder to imagine how real audiences might respond, and that is what I'm writing about.

P.S. regarding studying degree-level dance: I was on a BA course when I wrote this and now I'll hopefully complete an MA soon. :)

From Matt L     on 2006-01-27 12:26:49

I remember seeing Enter Achilles about ten years ago. I have no background in dance at all, but do have a significant background in pubs... I thought it was utterly fantastic.

From Laura     on 2006-07-08 12:56:07

My understanding of DV8 and lloyd newson is this. As a company They wish their audience to question the stereotypes that are part of the british cultural society. Their goal is to expand the audiences awareness of the predujices we each posess. The piece enter achielles alongside all of DV8's works provokes questions, it does not give the audience answers by defining what is right and what is wrong. As a piece of art i believe it is successful in its aim to provoke its audience to think! As evidence i refer to the comments on this piece...

From Roxy     on 2006-11-30 02:09:35

i agree with becky, DV8 are tryin 2 show how men are soo manly they cant let other men touch them, and their just showing everyday situations the targeted audience is for typical men who like their football and 'Birds'.
i like dv8s dance work its different and its just showing real life situations if u cant take that then your not mature enought to.

From megan     on 2006-11-30 02:12:35

its fukin disterbin!

From frex     on 2006-12-06 06:09:40

I don't think that DV8 have failed by not changing peoples' attitudes towards dance - because I don't think that that was necessarily their intention. DV8 aren't trying to change the way that people think or act - they are merely commenting on it. whether they are criticising or praising is a matter of personal opinion...but if you look on it as a social comment, then Enter Achilles in undoubtedly brilliant!

From KEL XX     on 2007-01-19 14:39:23


From Hallvord R. M. Steen     on 2007-02-14 16:13:41

Frex: I'm thinking about social attitudes, not attitudes to "dance" specifically. I'm asking if the piece really REALLY encourages us to think seriously about our own stereotypes or if it embodies prejudices like, say, "men who drink in pubs are so manly they can't let other men touch them" - I don't drink in pubs so should I watch Enter Achilles and feel better than those? I don't think so! I think I should be provoked to think about MY personal stereotypes (probably including the ones about what I think men in pubs are like..). But maybe I'm just not in the target audience of the piece, and that's fine.

From Hallvord     on 2007-02-14 16:38:35

Laura: I'm very impressed with the comment on this piece and it is clear that the piece is very stimulating and thought provoking. My question is whether it helps us challenge our stereotypes or actually sustains some of them.

From Catherine     on 2007-10-07 05:24:28

Becky makes an excellent point, this masterful piece of art shows stereotypes but DOES also have a target audience and shows a very contraversial aspect of dance. I loved the film and think it shows yet another amazing piece of work by the wonderful choreographer Lloyd Newson.

From sam     on 2008-01-06 17:58:45

Actually,i think it is questioning how far heterosexual men can go before it is seen as homosexual behaviour. yes it is confronting steroetypes but that it what dv8 are all about,not saying what is right or wrong but giving you the opportunity to make up your own mind. it is not about being mature enough to watch it either, it is about whether you have an open mind about social issues or a being typically british and brushing issues we are not familiar with under the carpet!!!!!

From jesse     on 2008-05-27 19:45:42

wow.. your an idiot. why dont you go see 'Enter Achilles' again.. and actually WATCH it..

From kirsty     on 2009-01-07 06:13:43

i found enter achillies cwite disterbing and verry inerpropreate i think it is horrible

From Claire     on 2009-08-06 06:07:01

i very much enjoyed studying Lloyd Newson's Enter Achilles as my grade 12 dance project and i believe and agree that it was a very successful piece :)

From holly     on 2010-01-18 16:20:32

I am studying dv8 in my college course and i dont do dance but i understand it rather well i think as a young person who has never seen anything like this i dont belive you need to do dance to understand it all you need is to be open minded to diffrenet types of art