When Theatre And Violence Clash: A Comparing Essay On 80's And 90's Drama

1197 words - 5 pages

A highly debated topic is the influence of violent content in media such as film, television, music, video games and theatre. Oscar Wilde's "Salome" shocked British theatre with its display of a femme fatale and the violent beheading scene. Sarah Kane's "Blasted" features sexual assault, homosexual rape, eye-gouging, infant cannibalism and suicide. In Harold Pinter's play "The Homecoming," the same message is delivered by means of referring to violence instead of staging it. When exploring the staging of violence, it is seen that this has a negative effect on the audience's perception. Additionally, the intention a playwright has for staging violence does not meet with the view of the audience. Lastly, violence is not crucial to deliver a plays message. The staging of violence and sexual actions does not assist to deliver a play's message but hinders it and is therefore unnecessary.The effect that a play has on the audience can be measured by critics' reviews. This is especially true when exploring reviews on Sarah Keane's "Blasted". According to Kane, the use of violence on stage is essential to deliver the fundamental message of her play to the audience. After seeing the play, Jack Tinker's response was, "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." Rarely has any play provoked such critical fury as Sarah Kane's "Blasted". On its first run at the Royal Court Theatre in 1995, it was savaged by almost every newspaper in the country. According to these papers, the play was a "disgusting feast of filth", and "a devoid of intellectual or artistic merit." "Salomé," by Oscar Wilde, received a negative reaction even before it ran. In 1892, the play was denied a license for production in London on the grounds that it portrayed biblical characters, which was forbidden by law. When "Salomé" was finally performed on stage in 1893 in France, it got poor reviews. Regina Gagnier noted that the "sex" portrayed through Salomé "is without purpose of production." So according to Gagnier, along with other critics, staging sexual behaviour has no function within a play. Harold Pinter's play "The homecoming" however, received more positive evaluation. It has proved to be among the most controversial of Pinter's plays. According to Andrew Wyllie, "There is no doubt that the action on stage continues to draw and hold the audience."The messages that playwrights convey to the audience, whether with or without the use of violence, vary. In "Salomé," Wilde gives the audience open access to the princess's perverted desire. Wilde wrote his one-act play "Salomé", originally written in French, to shock audiences with its spectacle of obstinate passions. Salomé's control over King Heriod results in using the power, which she gains from the king for her dancing, to destroy the system that imbued her with this power....

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