There is an article out currently about the National Theatre’s production of Sarah Kane’s Cleansed that discusses primarily the emotional and physical toll it has on its audience, with over 100 faints and walk-outs from the production. One article from BBC News, “Sarah Kane ‘vindicated’ by National Theatre debut” discussed the careful construction of her writing.
Simon Stephens, who wrote the stage adaptation to A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has stated that Kane’s work inspired his own writing saying “Idiots might have reacted to [Blasted] but it’s a complete masterpiece. It’s not an accident of youthful spirit, it’s meticulously structured.”
Kane struggled with depression which led to her suicide in 1999 and she craftily works her personal struggle into her writing with connecting themes throughout her works. However, Stephens believes, her work should not be analyzed in regard to her “tragic story”, but on their own personal level.
This story keeps bringing up the question of “when does theatre become harmful”. I have learned that the purpose of theatre is not to harm,but to reveal the truth of the world in which we live. I believe there is a difference between “painful” and “harmful”. Learning the truth about something that relates solely to yourself and your personal identity and beliefs can be painful. It’s human nature to find pain in being told something you don’t want to hear, which I believe is what people maybe reacting to in Kane’s work. She exposes at high lengths the affects of mental and physical torture to a persons body, mind, and soul. What separates this from becoming harmful?