When Theatre and Violence clash: a comparing essay on 80's and 90's drama

Essay by annerackwitszUniversity, Bachelor's January 2007

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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...