Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

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Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:16 am

Thread about the young playwright who died in tragic circumstances:

ATUI link expired. See below for original content.


Last edited by eddie on Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:58 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:07 pm

^

Thread replicated below in the event of link expiry:

*********************************************************************

LaRue wrote:

Holy crappola!

Has anyone heard of this play? It was written by Sarah Kane, who comitted suicide shortly afterwards. It's been called one long suicide note. The play has no plot, context, time, characters or anything. Looking at the script it could be an ee cummings poem, scattered across the page. It's an hour long monologue of depression and dispair.

I saw my friend perform in it last night, and it's fair to say I did not enjoy it and it freaked the living bejeezus out of me. It was a school performance, completely put together by people in my age (apart from some help from Mr Gray, who did things that Simon and Adam, the directors, couldn't legally do....seriously though, I'm getting those two boys help!) and it was a totally far out experience. The stage was the wrong way around, the audience sat on the floor at what is usually the back stage area, while the actors were infront of us and then went out into the hall, where the seats usually were. Going in they were playing this horrible contortion noise, which I swear nearly drove me insane! The stage was minimal, some black boxes for them to stand on. There were five actors in it, 3 girls and 2 boys. They were all dressed up, in tuxedos and little black dresses, it was a strange juxtaposition. The script doesn't break the lines up among characters, the directors had to do that. It was basically 5 voices of one person. I can't even explain the darkness of it all, the pain and anguish just bled of the page and the ever spiralling insanity was so evocative. There was this bit where they had strobe lighting and the people were just convulsing on the floor. It was so scary. It was particularly difficult for my group of friends to watch, because Ru, our friend who was in it, tried slitting his wrists once. Not many people know that, but it made us even more proud to see him up on stage. We were just stunned though, at the end nobody clapped for the longest time, and when we did it was that really slow kind of "omg" clapping. It was odd, I was sitting next to this guy Aik, he's the biggest badass around, I don't know him all too well, but seen him many times off his face or high, yet he was holding my hand throughout the last 20 mins or so, he couldn't take it. When the lights went on, we were all white as sheets. I think it's the only time I've seen half my friends speechless. Literally the most astonishing evening.

I felt the need to share this with you all. It really has affected in a way I wasn't expecting it too. Anyone else know about this?

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:13 pm

Eddie wrote:

Sarah Kane suffered from severe depression and committed suicide at the tragically young age of 28.

4:48 Psychosis: the title is taken from the time of the morning at which at which SK's mental state was at its worst.

Here's her friend Mark Ravenhill's obituary for SK in The Independent:

Obituary: Sarah Kane Mark Ravenhill


Tuesday, 23 February 1999

SARAH KANE was a contemporary writer with a classical sensibility who created a theatre of great moments of beauty and cruelty, a theatre to which it was only possible to respond with a sense of awe. Hers was a sensibility that Shakespeare or Sophocles or Racine would have recognised but that was often abrasive for a modern audience and, it seems, incomprehensible to most critics. For those used to the reassurances of sociology or psychology in plays, the austere beauty of Kane's work was a shock to the system.

She was born in 1971, the daughter of a journalist, and brought up in Brentwood in Essex. Till the age of 17 she was a fervent born-again Christian, and then made a conscious decision to reject God. She hated the values of suburban south-east England: "There is an attitude that certain things could not happen here. Yet there's the same amount of abuse and corruption in Essex as anywhere else, and that's what I want to blow open," she said.

At Bristol University, she read Drama, and was awarded a First. She then attended David Edgar's MA in play-writing at Birmingham University. Shortly after she finished, in January 1995, her play Blasted, exploring the nature of violence and war (set in a Leeds hotel room that erupts into a Bosnian war scene) was staged in London at the Royal Court Upstairs; it created a media storm.

At Bristol, Kane had been deeply affected by Edward Bond's play Saved (indeed, only a couple of weeks ago, she said to me: "You can learn everything you need to know about the craft of play-writing from Saved). "I was deeply shocked by the baby being stoned," she explained.

But then I thought, there isn't anything you can't represent on stage. If you are saying you can't represent somethng, you are saying you can't talk about it, you are denying its existence . . . My intention was to be absolutely truthful about abuse and violence. All of the violence in the play has been carefully plotted and dramatically structured to say what I want about war.

In the spring of 1996, I sat down reluctantly to read Blasted. The year before I had followed the furore surrounding its opening and thought it sounded terrible: a collage of shock tactics masquerading as theatre. I wasn't going to waste my time reading such a shabby little shocker.

But Blasted blew me away. From the first few lines, I knew I was in the hands of a playwright with total mastery of her craft. The dialogue was honed: so lean and tough and expressive that I would have wept with jealousy if I hadn't been so gripped. And as the play progessed it was clear Kane had got the structure sorted as well, controlling perfectly the momentum so that its conclusion was logical and awful and beautiful.

Edward Bond was an obvious influence, and there was quite a lot of Beckett in there as well. But as I read Blasted - with its great passions locked in a small room - I was constantly reminded of Racine. And as I finished reading it I knew that Sarah Kane was a great writer and that practically every theatre critic in London was a fool.

When, a few months later, I became literary manager for the touring company Paines Plough, I decided to ask Kane to be writer in residence. I waited nervously in a bar in Soho for our first meeting, expecting someone tall and fierce and difficult. She was, of course, nothing of the sort: small, almost vulnerable, she spoke thoughtfully and quietly, occasionally allowing a naughty smile to light up her face.

Unlike many of the Selfish Young Men having their first plays produced at the time, she was informed and enthusiastic about the work of up-and- coming writers (she'd read hundreds of scripts for the Bush theatre) and had thought deeply about the craft of the playwright and was prepared to pass her skills on to others. And so, after a bit too much beer, she agreed to join Paines Plough and proved to be an excellent script reader and an outstanding teacher.

When, soon after meeting her, I saw Kane's second play Phaedra's Love at the Gate, I realised she was now speaking above the heads of the English critics to a much wider constituency. Directors, dramaturges and translators from all over Europe crammed into the tiny space to see the play and many of them were planning productions of Blasted.

Phaedra's Love, loosely based on a story already treated by Seneca, Euripides and Racine, had a fantastic sardonic anti-hero in Hippolytus and a terrific coup de theatre towards the end as what had seemed to be a chamber play was invaded by a mob. But it was disappointing after the near perfection of Blasted. Kane had written it quickly, and - I think feeling uncertain that the text would work - had decided to direct the play herself, a job she did very well.

She now started to travel widely - spending time in New York at a playwrights' retreat and seeing various European productions of Blasted, not many of them to her taste. In the summer of 1997, she gave me a copy of her play Cleansed to read; set in a concentration camp built in a former university. I was thrilled to see that it was good, if not better than Blasted. Yes, there were plenty of violent bits for her detractors to criticise, but what was extraordinary about the play was its faith in the overwhelming redemptive power of love. "Brilliant, Sarah," I said, "very Puccini." She smiled. "Yeah, well, I'm in love."

A couple of months later, she directed Buchner's Woyzeck at the Gate. It was brave but disturbing. In an already bleak play she'd removed any possibility of the slightest moment of redemption for any of the characters. I told her it was just about the bleakest thing I'd ever seen. "Yeah, well, I fell out of love," she said.

I realised later what a terrible understatement that was. Around about that time, Kane fell out of love with life. And so began great, harrowing cycles of depression, self-hate and hospitalisation. She knew that she was loved by many people and she had a solid understanding of her own talent, but she was drawn constantly to thoughts of suicide.

It wasn't all misery in those last 18 months. James MacDonald's production of Cleansed at the Royal Court in the spring of 1998 gave her great pleasure. She was thrilled to see the production team had discovered an aesthetic that realised the austere, grand theatricality of her work. And she loved taking over the role of Grace for the last few performances after Suzanne Sylvester was taken ill. What was it like to be in her own play? "It's not like being in your own play," she said. "Because that play was written by someone who had hope."

And then there was her last play, Crave (in which four voices discuss obsessive love), produced by Paines Plough last autumn. Feeling trapped by people's expectations of the now world famous Sarah Kane ("I'm not a brand name, I'm a person," she snarled at us when we asked her to do some publicity for Paines Plough), Kane initially wrote the play under a pseudonym, Marie Kelvedon. Marie gave her the licence to experiment with another part of her voice and the result was a dense, beautiful poem that proved that she was a hugely versatile talent.

A couple of weeks ago I met up with Sarah Kane and, as playwrights do, we took to drinking beer and pontificating about our craft. "You know," she said, "most good playwrights write seven good plays and then something happens and after that they're crap." We started going through lists of the greats and, with a few exceptions, we decided that she was right. "I'm not far off my allotted seven," she said. `Bollocks," I said. "You're only just over halfway through." "Yeah. Suppose," she said.

Mark Ravenhill

Sarah Kane, playwright: born 3 February 1971; died London 19 February 1999.

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:15 pm

Eddie wrote:

Link to SK's wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Kane

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:16 pm

Catherine wrote:

she sounds amazing.....if a play is ever in Sydney I'll definitely go......


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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:17 pm

LaRue wrote:

Indeed, I'm interested in some of her other stuff now, having seen 4.48 psychosis, but also rather apprehensive. I mean, I think it's probably pretty easy to see that the play left a massive impresssion, not only on me but on all my friends who were there. It was seriously an exhausting and terrifying experience, I can't even describe what it was like. I didn't enjoy it at all, but it was good if you get what I mean. I couldn't believe they were my friends up there, it felt like a completely different world. I'm sure you all know what I mean....but it was just so intensely self hating and suicidal, it was uncomforatable to watch. I know people say it's a suicide note, but the directors told me that they thought that was over simplifying the play, and I kind of get what they mean by that....it's hard to explain, but there were moments. It's interesting, her religious upbringing. There was a section of the play that had quite overt religious overtones, plus an awful lot of "fuck you god". Plus, this is a coincidence, but the play took place in the main hall which is attached to the school chapel in the back. And because the stage was the other way round, there was a massive cross just looming in the background the whole time.

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:18 pm

Eddie wrote:

A former girlfriend was raised by an evangelical Christian mother. She's now a militant atheist, not depressed or suicidal but she drinks too much.

I was on the same script-reading/aspiring playwright circuit for a few years as SK and Mark Ravenhill, whose best-known play probably remains "Shopping and Fucking". Don't think I ever met SK but I knew Mark quite well. Never saw him drink beer, though.

After some minor successes, I packed it in to earn some proper money. Perhaps this was a good move...

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:19 pm

Eddie wrote:

SK's first play Blasted appeared to some savage reviews. Here's one:

Blasted -This disgusting piece of filth:

"...For utterly disgusted I was by a play which appears to know no bounds of decency yet has no message to convey by way of excuse... utterly without artistic merit...".
Jack Tinker- Daily Express.

She was later lauded by, amongst other luminaries, Harold Pinter and Edward Bond.

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:20 pm

LaRue wrote:

Ah yes, Blasted. Adam one of the co directors told me about that play. In involves lots of rape, masturbation, eating dead babies, sucking someone's eyes out, and lots of bombs.... Funnily enough there was no way on god's green earth that they could EVER perform that in a school! Oh yes, they wanted to... I certainly have some interesting friends, and we are a very talented year group in drama. Though the master now wants to take it down a notch...the "official" school play next term in Wind and the Willows, a play which is somewhat beneath what we're capable of considering not only psychosis, but some of the other plays the sixth form has put on this year, I'd say.

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:22 pm

Eddie wrote:

LaRue wrote:
Wind and the Willows


Let's see....Ratty sodomises Toad before sucking out Badger's eyballs and stomping on Mole's head..

This could work!

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:23 pm

LaRue wrote:

Eddie, your clairvoyancy is remarkable...I know the guys playing those roles...and you're damnright it could end up that way!

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:24 pm

Catherine wrote:

self-indulgent semi-rant

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

Post  eddie on Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:56 am

^

For more on SK's buddy Mark Ravenhill, see thread.

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Re: Sara Kane's 4:48 Psychosis

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