Talk:Sarah Kane

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Removed sources tag[edit]

This article was tagged as requiring more sources, but it looks pretty thorough to me, at a quick glance. If anyone wants to dispute individual claims, please insert a {{Fact}} tag at the end of the particular sentence, so we can take a closer look.

Thanks, DionysosProteus 02:01, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Section on 'Life'[edit]

She studied drama at Bristol University, graduating in 1992, and went on to take an MA course in playwrighting at Birmingham University, where she studied under the playwright David Edgar.[3] (which refers to: Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Kane obituary, Independent Feb 23rd 1999, as a credible source).


Billington shows me the letter Kane sent him. It's classic Kane - eloquent, aggressive and touching, never more so than when she asks him not to repeat the idea that she is a creation of David Edgar's. "I was not 'taught' by him, nor 'discovered' by him. I'm not sure where you got this idea - perhaps from David himself - but by repeating it you are making it more and more likely that David and I are going to get into a public row about his course. While I don't expect you to consider how this would make me feel, perhaps it might matter to you that it would upset David. Not nearly as much as it upset my mother when you said her daughter was depraved on national television, but it would upset him. And I'd rather that was avoided."

Simon Hattenstone, article, Guardian 1 July 2000


Had Kane really "studied under...Edgar"? I'm not sure how to interpret Kane's quotation with Ravenhill's assumed authority in his obituary:

"At Bristol University, she read Drama, and was awarded a First. She then attended David Edgar's MA in play-writing at Birmingham University."


It doesn't really seem clear whether Kane did anything other than "take an MA course in playwrighting at Birmingham University."

I believe the latter half of this sentence with it's reference to the Ravenhill obituary should be excised, but I won't do so myself as it involves text in the Reference section that I'm not sure how to remove on Wikipedia. Galo1969X (talk) 05:32, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Just looking at the article again and you're correct about Edgar. AFAIK Edgar headed that MA course (whether he taught Kane directly is unclear). Also it should be noted that in Graham Saunder's Book About Kane he collected a number of interviews with her about her life and work. She has expressed, as has Saunders, that she really did not enjoy the MA process and felt "it nearly destroyed her as a writer"[1]. So her letter above exists in that context. For the moment I'm going to replace the "taught by david Edgar" with "MA led by David Edgar"[1] which is both more factually accurate and more in line with how other sources (such as Sierz and Saunders) express it--Cailil talk 21:33, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Where does Sierz describe it in this way? DionysosProteus (talk) 22:22, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

The way Sierz puts it is to say that she "started an MA in playwriting at Birmingham University" (p. 92 of In Yer Face Theatre) - he doesn't mention Edgar at all. Saunders says it this way in About Kane: "she enrolled on an MA in playwrighting at Birmingham University. The course, which had been set up in 1989 by the dramatist David Edgar, [...]" (p. 9). Ken Urban doesn't mention Edgar at all in 'The Body's Cruel Joke' (note 11 on p. 168)--Cailil talk 00:00, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it didn't seem to make a claim either way about the relationship. With regards to the naturalism claims, the new version is an improvement, but still introduces ideas not supported by the source--namely, that British theatre was/is dominated by naturalism, and that IYF-theatre was responsible for breaking through this convention. The source doesn't say either of these things. Given the wave of Brecht-inspired playwrighting in British theatre of the 60s, and especially the 70s-80s, that claim is difficult to support. DionysosProteus (talk) 01:53, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

I take your point. The way Sierz puts it is that Kane's work "puts into question the ruling conventions of naturalism" and that she is "the quintessential In-Yer-Face writer of the decade [1990s]" (p. 121 and 122). I'm going to replace the last bit of the line with "that broke away from the conventions of naturalist theatre". Feel free to adjust as necessary--Cailil talk 17:29, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I agree that that's an improvement again--quoting Sierz solves the citation query. Looking at what he wrote, though, I do still wonder about it. I'm nit-picking, probably. Initially, I misread the sentence from which you quote as "not only experimental, but also puts into question conventions of nat." I looked again, because that seemed a little strange (what is experimental if not putting into question nat?). So I realised that it's actually "not only experiential..." Not only is this a more sophisticated point than the one in the article currently, but it also seems to me to be a rather different one from that which we're using the quote to make. The point, as I understand it, isn't that she broke away from the conventions of nat (do most of her plays do that? I only remember Blasted, and that doesn't really, though the voice one obviously does). Rather, it's the combination of an "experiential" dramaturgy (which, I assume, he's using as a synonym for naturalistic-ish form) while also challenging it. In the way, say, Pinter did--you know, a "realistic" appearance with other things, formally, tugging away beneath. This is a little different from describing her dramatic form as radically non-naturalistic (to exaggerate the claim made in the article). The in-yer-face categorisation seems to be more about "sensibility" than formal experimentation/innovation. I don't have a tweak suggestion... just wanted to flag the question. DionysosProteus (talk) 00:49, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes I agree with you too - teh point you raise is very important. Saunders goes on at length about how Cleansed, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis are progressively more and more experimental. And Kane has a number of quotes talking about how she wanted to pear her work down. You are spot on about the critics saying her work is experimental in form and content and yes what the article says doesn't do their points justice. I'm trying to remember exactly which book Saunders had those points and quotes in (probably 'Love me or kill me' ) but I'll have a look for a page reference on Saturday or Sunday. Personally I have great problems with Urban and Sierz's use of the In-Yer-Face classification (and indeed the 'new brutalist' label Kane was tagged with) but it is the most widely cited and quoted one - Saunders and Rebellato might have more sophisticated ways of diescribing her stage craft and dramaturgy. Perhaps there is need for a discussion of her 'formal innovation' in a sub section of 'work'?--Cailil talk 14:41, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
  1. ^ a b Saunders, Graham (2002). Love me or kill me: Sarah Kane and the theatre of extremes. Manchester ; Manchester University Press : 2002. p. 39. ISBN 0-7190-5956-9.