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In-yer-face : the shocking Sarah Kane

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Playwright, Sarah Kane emerged as a new voice in British writing in the early 1990s. Her work, recognized most notably for its shocking content, was the source of media hype, and rendered her work, with that of her peers, as In-Yer-Face Theatre. This dissertation analyses the use of shock in Kane‟s work, with particular reference to her first and last plays: Blasted and 4.48 Psychosis. I discuss the shock elements employed by Kane in these texts and consider the reasons behind their use, particularly Kane‟s break with realism and subversion of form. My research draws upon social constructionist thought as a strand of the larger discourses of postmodernism, in particular those which inform the existence of war, violence and trauma. Focusing too, on the work of theatre practitioners such as Antonin Artaud, whose „Theatre of Cruelty‟ is reminiscent of Kane‟s own theatre. I discuss the origin of In-Yer-Face Theatre as well as its forerunners by examining Post-War British Theatre from the 1940‟s, especially those plays that have resonated on a provocative level. My research also explores the social and political factors influencing theatre over the decades and in relation to Kane, particularly the Thatcher government of the 1980s. I argue that the social and political climate of the 1980s and 1990s played a direct role in the formation of Kane‟s theatre and examine Kane‟s work and its reception in relation to other playwrights of the time. I have deliberately chosen to locate my research in terms of British theatre.


Thesis (M.A. (Drama and Performance Studies)) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2008.


Theatre--Great Britain--History--20th century., English drama--20th century--History and criticism.