Sarah Kane’s Postmodern Traumatics
The body is the inscribed surface of events, traced by language and dissolved by ideas, the locus of a dissociated self, adopting the illusion of a substantial unity – a volume in disintegration.
–Michel Foucault “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”in Paul Rabinow, ed., The Foucault Reader
Kane’s final offering to the theatrical world, 4:48 Psychosis, is a testimony to the veracity of Kane’s self-professed growing interest in the performative potential of theatre. In an interview dating back to 1995 Kane stated that: “Increasingly, I’m finding performance more interesting than acting, theatre more compelling than plays” (Kane “Drama”). Kane’s interest in theatre’s untapped potential is evident in the way her final play pushes the conventional boundaries of playwriting. 4:48 Psychosis reads less like a play than a prose poem intended for interpretative performance. I read 4:48 Psychosis as Kane’s a theatrical journey into the darkest realms of the human psyche exploring feelings of alienation, depression, and suicide. It is also a play about unrequited love. In this chapter, I discuss the way in which Kane conjoins the violent language she perfected in her earlier work, her interest in memory, the trauma that is evident in all of her plays, and the desire to provide the audience with experiential theatre. I consider 4:48 Psychosis as a work of art that is a theatrical enactment of depression and suicide, within which is the expression of the fragmented postmodern subject and the impossibility of presenting an...
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