DYNAMIC TENSIONS: THE PHYSICAL CULTURE THEATRE SHOW & THE GLOBAL TRANSMISSION OF HEALTH, FITNESS & MANLINESS
Friday, 13 October 2017
20:00 – 21:30 
Anatomy Museum, Kings College London 
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS

Would you like to test your grip against a strongman? Or challenge a reigning champion wrestler? In Dynamic Tensions you will learn the secrets of strength, vigour, and musculation from the giants of physical culture; everything you need to build a new, and better, you.
In the 19th and early 20th century, physical fitness was spread internationally through theatrical performances, which included weightlifting, wrestling, strongman acts, gymnastics, and posing. The ‘physical culture show’ combined spectacle and lecture, with the ‘science’ of bodily self-improvement sitting alongside theatrical and sometimes freakish displays. International tours of such performances served to broadcast the message of physical culture worldwide. While physical culturists aimed to serve the world by spreading the gospel of health and strength, they also invented and spread models of modern masculine identity.

Dynamic Tensions is a performance that flexes the memory of the physical culture spectacular, deconstructing its messages of health, strength, and manliness to find other, less dominant narratives of bodies and gender that have always been worked out through physical practice. It features a cast of performers, athletes, and fitness professionals, performing exercise demonstrations, weightlifting, strength feats, gymnastics, and posing. Looking to the theatrical origins of physical fitness, Dynamic Tensions establishes the performative nature of masculine identities built through fitness regimes both historical and modern. It examines how a male bodily ideal interacts with global racial and sexual identities, and how the practice of physical culture can be a site for new identities to be built.
Directed by: Broderick Chow
Assistant Director: Jonathan Hinton
Performed by: Philip Bedwell, Broderick Chow, Daniel Crute, Jonathan Hinton, Adam Johnson, Peter Moore, Phoebe Ransome, Jack Robinson
Musical Direction: Sally Goodworth
Roundtable: Kélina Gotman (Chair), Andrea Sangiovanni, Kristian McPhee
Dynamic Tensions: www.dynamictensions.com
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council / Supported by Brunel University London and Kings College London