Commissioned to paint a vast canvas celebrating the triumphant Battle of Lepanto, the free-spirited Galactia creates instead a breathtaking scene of war-torn carnage. In her fierce determination to stay true to herself, she alienates the authorities and faces incarceration. Her younger lover Carpeta is approached to take over and seizes the assignment for himself. Howard Barker's Scenes from an Execution makes sixteenth-century Venice the setting for a fearless exploration of sexual politics and the timeless tension between personal ambition and moral responsibility, between the patron's demands and the artist's autonomy. First published in 1990, this re-issue of Scenes from an Execution coincides with the major revival at the National Theatre. This new edition carries a preface by Howard Barker, The Sunless Garden , which references his newer work alongside this classic play from Barker's canon. Fiona Shaw takes the role of Galactia in this darkly humorous and provocative play at the National Theatre 27th September 15th November 2012.