Theatre: The late Sarah Kane in her own words

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The Independent Culture
In rehearsals for `Blasted'

"Everyone has worked really honestly on the play, so even if it's a disaster, there won't be anyone to blame."

"One year's writing and 23 years' living. What am I going to do for the next one?"

After the `Blasted' furore

"Everything they said was a lie. They didn't say anything that was true, except that I'd written a play. I knew the tabloids wouldn't like it, but the response has been hysterical and apoplectic."

"It is distressing, if not entirely surprising. I expected criticism, I didn't expect it to become a news item. It's a 65-seat theatre and suddenly it's Newsnight and The World at One. The thing that shocks me the most is that they seem to have been more upset by the presentation of violence than by violence itself. A 15-year-old girl has just been raped in a wood but there's more space in the tabloids about my play than about this brutal act. That's the kind of journalism that the play absolutely condemns."

"There is no real debate in this country about how you represent violence in art. The violence in this play is completely de-glamorised. It's just presented. I resent the idea that I set out to shock. I wrote it to tell the truth. Of course that's shocking. Take the glamour out of violence and it becomes utterly repulsive. Would people seriously prefer it if the violence was appealing?"

"If I had written something more polemical, with clearly defined good and bad characters, maybe it would just have been dismissed as a bad play and the reaction would have been calmer."

"I hate the idea of theatre just being an evening pastime. It should be emotionally and intellectually demanding. I love football. The level of analysis that you listen to on the terraces is astonishing. If people did that in the theatre... but they don't. They expect to sit back and not participate. If there's a place for musicals, opera or whatever, then there should be a place for good new writing, irrespective of box-office. What do we want our culture to be remembered for in a hundred years' time: Neighbours?"

"Once you have perceived that life is very cruel, the only response is to live with as much humanity, humour and freedom as you can. Writing is an expression of that - so it is ironic that people are trying to clamp down on it."

During rehearsals for `Phaedra's Love'

"Like Hippolytus, I committed the unforgivable sin, which is knowing that God is real and consciously deciding to reject Him. I believed in God but not in the lifestyle that Christianity demanded. I knew a lot of Christians who I thought were fundamentally bad people and a lot of non-Christians who I thought were utterly beautiful, and I couldn't understand that. So I made a conscious decision to reject God and gradually my belief subsided. According to the Bible I am now utterly damned. The point in Phaedra is that if you're not sure God exists you can cover your arse, living your life carefully just in case, or you can live your life as you want to live it. If there is a God who can't accept the honesty of that then, well, tough."

"A lot of people won't see beyond the fact that there was a lot of nasty stuff in Blasted and there's even more in this."

"Through being very, very low comes an ability to live in the moment because there isn't anything else. What do you do if you feel the truth is behind you? Many people feel depression is about emptiness but actually it's about being so full that everything cancels itself out. You can't have faith without doubt, and what are you left with when you can't have love without hate?"

During rehearsals for her production of `Woyzeck'

"I'm not interested in sloganising. No one would listen to me. But what you can do is put people through an intense experience. Maybe in a small way from that you can change things."

Sources: `The Independent', `The Independent on Sunday', `The Big Issue'

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