Phil Smith

Walls, Doors and Strata

Friday October 11th

Phil Smith

Phil Smith – the Crab Man - will discuss the making of performances in sites of constriction, containment and ambiguity. He will address the potency of sites with multiple histories and how conventional heritage narratives can be turned on their heads and re-used in performances that seek to escape the bounds of official narratives. Drawing on the geological, military and prison histories of the Verne site, the Crab Man will interrogate the possibilities and limitations of a performance that weaves the qualities of a stratified site with the multiple personae, free and restrained, of a performer.


Phil Smith (the Crab Man) is a performer, writer, teacher and researcher, specialising in making performances based on walking and in heritage sites. Author of ‘Mythogeography’ (Triarchy Press, 2010) and ‘Counter-Tourism: The Handbook’ (Triarchy Press, 2012) and co-author of ‘Walking, Writing and Performance’ - (Intellect, 2009).

He is the company dramaturg and a founding member (1981) of TNT Theatre (Munich) and is a core member of site-based artists group Wrights & Sites (Exeter, UK). As a performer, Phil has created many site-specific theatre pieces and numerous ‘mis-guided walks’ including those with Simon Persighetti: ‘A Man About The House’ at the National Trust’s A la Ronde, ‘Water Walk’ in Exeter’s West Quarter, ‘A Michael Chekhov Mis-Guide’ at Dartington Hall and ‘A Tour of Sardine Street’ in Queen Street, Exeter.

His book (co-authored with Persighetti) about the latter walk – ‘A Sardine Street Box of Tricks’ – has become a widely used manual for creating similar tours and was re-published in 2012 by Triarchy Press. He is presently working as a performer for Blind Ditch, adapting Todd Strasser’s ‘The Wave’ for TNT and working with designer Polly Macpherson to create objects for visitors to the National Trust property at Castle Drogo.

Website /

Image credit: ‘GeoQuest’ Phil Smith, Tony Lidington and Hugh Nankivell (2010)