Archive for Sarah Kane
Friday marked ten years to the day that Sarah Kane committed suicide in the bathroom of her King’s College hospital room. To commemorate the decade since her passing, BBC Radio 1 aired Blasted: The Life and Times of Sarah Kane, a short documentary by the University of London’s Dan Rebellato about her work, its impact and its legacy in contemporary British theatre, which is available for streaming until the 26th of February. One of the points that it raised was that the posthumous mythologising of Kane as a morbid, tortured Queen of Darkness was to sell her short; to miss the implicit humanity and humour in both her character and her short body of works. Her friend Vincent O’Connel, in addressing what he calls the “authorised version” of Kane, stated: “As well as listening to Joy Division, she’d be equally likely to be dancing to George Michael or playing Miles Davis tunes on her trumpet. She liked dark humour, for sure, but she’d also laugh herself silly at Laurel Hardy or Fawlty Towers.” Critics were all too quick, particularly in the UK, to attribute Kane’s use of theatrical violence to the emergence and popularity of the in-yer-face playwrights: Ravenhill, McDonagh, Butterworth and so forth, which is debatable in itself. But as that movement has largely dissipated, it is interesting, and timely, to think how Kane’s influence and impact on theatre writing is now felt; whether a new generation of writers will consider, or reject, her approaches to the craft. Angus Cerini’s Wretch is certainly a case in study, and a uniquely Australian one at that.
For my argument that they are an ‘oddity on the Australian stage’, it seems slightly paradoxical that the first two feature pieces published on this blog deal with double bills. Pre-empting Platform Youth Theatre’s onslaught of Aussie writers in March is Welcome Stranger’s This is Good Advice, featuring two shorts from two of Britain’s most important contemporary theatre artists, Caryl Churchill and Martin Crimp. The back-to-back combination is additionally tantalising as audiences do not get enough opportunities to experiences these writers, particularly Churchill, on our stages. Perhaps I have been living under a rock, but this is first time I have actually seen a Churchill play performed (my third Crimp – he has been slightly more in vogue over the last few years).