“I’ve only ever written to escape from hell-and it’s never worked-but at the other end of it when you sit there and watch something and think that’s the most perfect expression of the hell that I felt then maybe it was worth it. (Sarah Kane, Royal Holloway College, London, 3 November 1998).” (Saunders. 2002: 1). Both representative and reflected in this statement made by the British playwright Sarah Kane (1971-1999) (Sierz. 2001: 90-91) is the state of being human. In its literal sense the state of being human could be illustrated as an expression of existence. That of the individual and characteristics and traits experienced through the life of mortal man. (Oxford English Dictionary. 2006: 61 & 366). In addition to this, the associated meaning with the word ‘tested’ suggests ‘a difficult situation that reveals the strength or quality of someone or something.’ (Oxford English Dictionary. 2006: 785). When defined in these terms, this then opens up the question to how an expression of human-existence is revealed under pressure in Sarah Kane’s play Blasted (1995).
The twentieth century British playwright Sarah Kane’s (1971-1999) first and sensational drama Blasted opened in the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London, in January 1995. (Saunders. 2002: 2). From the outset Kane’s play stirred much controversy within the media. The title itself had a great impact upon its audience, as blasted through its formed meaning and literal association is a term ‘expressing annoyance.’ (Oxford English Dictionary. 2006: 70). As stated by the British theatre critic Aleks Sierz, Kane’s Blasted is “a shocking play whose raw language and powerful images of rape, eye-gouging and cannibalism provoked critical outrage…Kane exploded theatrical convention.” (Sierz: 2000-2010).
Kane’s work is categorised as part of the social relation of theatrical writers known as ‘in-yer-face,’ a term coined by Aleks Sierz. He further explains that “in-yer-face theatre shocks audiences by the extremism of its language and images; unsettles them by its emotional frankness and disturbs them by its acute questioning of moral norms. It not only sums up the zeitgeist, but criticises it as well. Most in-yer-face plays are not interested in showing events in a detached way and allowing audiences to feel the extreme emotions that are being shown on stage. In-yer-face theatre is experiential theatre.” (Sierz: 2000-2010).
The state of being human is tested in Blasted through its visual medium of extremes. Both the audience and the plays characters are subjected to extreme acts of violence and abuse, as witnessed for example through ‘the plays contents- anal rape, masturbation, micturition, defecation, fellatio, frottage, cannibalism and eye-gouging.’ (Sierz. 2001: 100). A process that both raises questions of the morals and values held within western society, through its de-humanising effects, and degrading nature. As these facets are exhibited and explored, the...