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Title: Sarah Kane's dramaturgy of psychic life
Author: Sidi, Leah
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 5593
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Following her suicide in 1999, Sarah Kane's life and works have become the subjects of academic debate and theatrical myth. Academic criticism remains shy of connecting Kane's theatre with her experience of mental pathology. Those critics who address the theme of mental illness in Kane's works tend to focus on her final play 4.48 Psychosis; either presenting it as a detached discursive critique of psychiatric discourse, or as a redemptive, prophetic communication from the depths of depressive experience. This thesis argues that both approaches miss the most original part of Kane's project which lies in the interrelation between the theatrical form of all of her works and representations of mental distress. Using a combination of historical materialism, psychoanalytic theory, neuroscience, close reading and performance analysis, the thesis develops the framework of 'dramaturgies of psychic life' to show how Kane's playtexts call for theatrical encounters which are shaped by the interior life of a single subject. Kane pushes the locus of her theatrical works into a dramaturgical space 'in-between' audience and artwork, in which they become radical invitations to endure and participate in the logics of trauma and psychosis. At the same time, I argue that her works call for a new kind of response to psychic pain, which is neither mediated by diagnostic labels nor structured around redemptive categories of socially generative empathy or cure. Providing a new framework for understanding and contextualising Kane's theatrical works, this thesis also seeks to understand their recent resurgence in popularity. It uses Kane's dramaturgy to explore the consequences of understanding psychic pain as spatially enacted, positioning her as an important voice in ongoing debates about the nature of mental illness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available