Guide Cruelty and Desire in the Modern Theater: Antonin Artaud, Sarah Kane, and Samuel Beckett

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Kane: stage plays. Full-length stage play.


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Ian, a middle-aged journalist, takes twentysomething Cate, a family friend, to a Leeds hotel room and abuses her. Halfway through the minute play, the Soldier arrives and subjects Ian to verbal threats and rape. Cate escapes. A mortar bomb crashes into room, the Soldier sucks out Ian's eyes and then commits suicide.

Antonin Artaud and the Theatre of Cruelty: Crash Course Theater #43

Cate returns with a baby that's been given to her by victim of the war raging outside. It dies, and Ian tries to eat it. Now blind and hungry, Ian finally dies. Rain pours in on his head, which is poking out of the floorboards. Cate returns to this metaphoric hell with some food - Ian thanks her.

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Raw in style, horrific in content and experimental in form, Blasted received some of the most hostile reviews of the decade. Blinded by its explicit scenes of horror, most critics failed to see that what was really disturbing was the play's radical structure, in which a first half set in Leeds hotel suddenly explodes into a war zone reminiscent of Bosnia. An example of experiential theatre , which aims to reproduce the dislocation of war by means of a dislocation of plot.

Cast: two men, one woman. Set: Anonymous hotel room.

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Phaedra's Love. Loosely based on Seneca, a modern-day version of the Phaedra story, with Hippolytus as a depressed narcissist. On his birthday, Phaedra, in the grip of irrational desire, performs fellatio on him. He rejects her, telling her that he's had sex with her daughter Strophe, and she hangs herself, leaving a note accusing Hippolytus of rape.

Galvanised by the accusation, Hippolytus surrenders to the police, refuses a priest's offer of forgiveness, and demands to be punished. Theseus arrives, and watches as Hippolytus throws off his guards and leaps into the crowd, which tries to kill him. When Strophe, in disguise, tries to help her half-brother, Theseus rapes and kills her. Hippolytus has his genitals cut off and thrown on a fire. His last words are: 'If there could have been more moments like this. The play concentrates more on Hippolytus than on Phaedra, and radically rethinks his character.

Instead of being virginal, Kane's Hippolytus is sexually experienced, even if he gets no pleasure from sex. In place of puritanical purity, he pursues honesty to the point of self-destruction. Cast: four men, two women, plus crowd of ten. Set: palace rooms, prison cell, street.

Journal of Contemporary Drama in English

Performed: Gate Theatre, London, May Set in 'an institution designed to rid society of its undesirables', ironically called a university, the play explores the theme of love, testing its characters by subjecting them to horrendous atrocities. Grace searches for Graham, her brother, an addict who's been murdered by Tinker, a sadistic guard or doctor. Grace wears Graham's clothes, dances with his spirit, makes love to him, and finally - after having a penis transplant - becomes him. At the same time, Carl promises Rod eternal love, but betrays him; Rod, who lives for the moment, dies for love.

And Robin, a disturbed year-old, falls for Grace when she teaches him to read, while Tinker imposes Grace's identity onto that of an erotic dancer. Intensity of desire has made identity fluid. The play balances the yearning for purification through love with the horrors of torture. The serial mutilation of Carl is symbolic: every time he uses a part of his body to express love, it is cut off.

The need for love, symbolised by the incestuous attraction of Grace and Graham, is expressed by means of sunflowers and daffodils. Cast: five men, two women. Set: university perimeter fence, college green, sanitorium, sports hall, showers, library and round room. A series of poetic exchanges in which four characters - A, B, C and M - talk about their needs and desires: more of a tone poem than a conventional play.

Although their relationships with each other are fluid, each of the characters has a coherent personality. A describes himself as a paedophile, C is haunted by abuse, M wants to have a baby, and B is ready to be seduced. The play makes sense both as the fragmented exchanges between an older man A and a younger woman B , and an older woman M and a younger man B , and as one mind's competing internal voices.

When each character speaks, they could be addressing one or more of the other characters. Originally staged with four actors sitting on swivel chairs as in a talk show, Crave can be interpreted as an account of two couples, as one mind's mental collapse or even as the overlapping feelings of four people.

Likewise, the ending is ambiguous, and can be read as a final gasp of happiness before death, a moment of rage against the fading of the light, or the quiet drifting into unconsciousness. Cast: two men, two women. The title refers to 4. Composed of monologues and dialogues whose content includes exchanges between patients and therapists, notes about grief, mental anguish and psychological distress, caustic accounts of the therapeutic use of drugs and diary entries.

Each of the lines could be spoken by either a man or a woman. The effect is of a mind full of competing voices, a mix of poetic images, idiomatic snatches of conversation, satires on psychobabble and repetitive, quasi-liturgical rhythms. Conveys the experience of psychological crisis, when the barriers between reality and different forms of imagination disappear. Originally staged with three actors, Kane's most experimental play is the culmination of her quest to make form and content one.

On the page, there are no characters, nor any indication of how many actors are required. The text is laid out following the conventions of a modernist poem, rather than those of a playtext. Cast: none specified, but one man and two women in original production. Billy, a young skinhead, joins in a brutal racist attack on a black wedding party in Brixton, London, but then finds himself drawn to Marcia, a black woman whose flat is visible from his window.

He visits Marcia, the couple have sex, she carves her name on his back, but finally rejects him, finding solace with Kath, her flatmate, while Billy unsuccessfully takes an overdose. Skin was written in summer , filmed the following September, and broadcast by Channel Four on 17 June , causing controversy when its original screening time of 9.

Cast: Ewen Bremner, Marcia Rose. Kane playtexts. Cleansed , London: Methuen, Crave , London: Methuen, Kane film script. Skin , unpublished script, London: Casarotto Ramsay, Kane's journalism.

Selected interviews with and profiles of Kane. Bayley, Clare, 'A very angry young woman', Independent , 23 January Benedict, David, 'Disgusting violence? Actually it's quite a peaceful play', Independent , 22 January Christopher, James, 'Her first play was about defecation, cannibalism, and fellatio.


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The new one's about love', Observer , 2 November Other sources. Benedict, David, 'The accidental director', Independent , 13 August Bond, Edward, 'A blast at our smug theatre', Guardian , 28 January Christopher, James, 'Rat with hand exits stage left', Independent , 4 May Ellison, Mike and Alex Bellos, 'Blasted: a deeply moral and compassionate piece of theatre or simply a disgusting feast of filth? Graham, Polly, 'Rape play girl in hiding', Express , 20 January Holland, Patricia, 'Monstrous regiment', Independent , 27 January Kane, Simon, Press release about Psychosis , 21 September Macdonald, James, 'Blasting back at the critics', Observer , 22 January Morris, Tom, 'Foul deeds, fair play', Guardian , 25 January Morris, Tom, 'Damned and blasted?

Taylor, Paul, 'The mother of all dramas', Independent , 9 September Collections of selected reviews. Reviews of 4. Selected obituaries of Kane.

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Anon, 'Sarah Kane', Times , 23 February Anon, 'Sarah Kane', Telegraph , 24 February Macdonald, James, 'They never got her', Observer , 28 February Taylor, Paul, 'Sarah Kane was a writer of shocking and angry talent [ Secondary literature. Pankratz, Annette, 'Greek to Us? Sierz, Aleks, 'Cool Britannia? Selected broadcasts.

Introduction | SpringerLink

September Discussion of 4. Wynne-Wilson, Peter, 'Sarah Kane: writer', www. Sarah Kane , the radically innovative playwright who committed suicide at the age of 28 in , leaving behind a small but powerful body of work, saw nihilism as an extreme form of romanticism, and the tension between self-destruction and self-affirmation seems to pervade all of her work. Although her five plays and one screenplay are about love, they all feature a character who attempts, with or without success, to commit suicide. In January , Blasted , Kane's debut at the Royal Court theatre, set the tone for the reception of her work in Britain.

Written with a mix of raw sensibility and a mature theatrical intelligence, it startled critics and audiences with its in-yer-face aggression and violent stage images. Denounced by the Daily Mail as "This disgusting feast of filth", Blasted became a cause celebre of s theatre. One may, therefore, say that the Hamburg Enactment metaphorically depicts her sense of entrapment in this specific memory by situating this walker within the dark interior confines of the framed stage box. Gendai Eibei Kenkyu. Gendai Eibei Bunka.

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