Over the course of the study weekend at college I was surprised at one thing, often our discussions would come back to Sarah Kane’s work or influence.
I first came across Sarah Kane’s work via her play Blasted, which I read for one of my first units at college. I can still vividly remember reading the play and being dumb struck and disturbed after reading it. As mentioned in a previous post, reading this play led me to ask some questions about the playwright, and I started to read more about her. I was struck by several things, firstly her religious upbringing. I in my teens was very influenced by fundamentalist Christianity (thankfully I’ve moved on since those days) and totally understand her when she responds to comments that her work is violent that as she was immersed in the Bible during those formative years, that’s to be expected, the Bible is a very violent book. I’m writing this on Good Friday, where we remember how Jesus was violently executed and tortured!
I also totally agreed with her view that the outrage Blasted caused was disproportional to the fact that similar atrocities were being committed for real all over the world and within Europe at the time of her writing it. Every violent act is based on a real life story she’d read, I won’t go into the gory details, but one of the more disturbing scenes is based on her reading a report of what some football thugs did to someone. We should be more outraged by the real atrocities than the fictional ones.
Later on following a study event at college I bought her collected plays and read the rest of her work. Psychosis 4:48 is still one of my favourite plays ever. A close friend had attempted suicide a few days before I read the play (I didn’t know it’s subject matter before I started to read it) and it gave me some insight into what they may have been feeling. It’s also one of the few plays where I’ve literally sobbed while reading in places as it was so pertinent to my friends situation. I’m aware that she gave it no parts or stage directions as she was influenced by Martin Crimps, Attempts on Her Life , and while Martin Crimp wrote that play to challenge the audiences perceptions of what a play is. Psychosis 4:48 doesn’t come across like that to me, Kane realises that there simply is no other way to represent the psychosis.
For a playwright that only wrote 5 plays and died so young, it’s amazing the influence she has on current theatre. The other students all seem to have a “I remember when I read Blasted for the first time” story, Aleks Sierz, at the Study Weekend talked about the form of Blasted as a “rupture” form, ie. the bomb blast ruptures the play. I feel that reading Sarah Kane’s work and especially Blasted ruptured my theatrical knowledge and experience and I’m grateful that it did.