Sa ra h Ka ne plays
Death. Not being/ you fall asleep then you wake up His motherīs a lesbos, am I not preferable to that/ perhaps sheīs a nice person Give us a cig/ why?/ Cause I got a gun and you havenīt No God/ Got to be something/ Why?/ Doesnīt make sense otherwise/ Doesnīt make sense anyway
The play is set in the bedroom of a hotel room where Ian, an obnoxious newspaper hack, has taken Cate for the night. She is down-to-earth and unused to luxury. Then the soldier enters. The hotel is in a Bosnian Leeds and the events that follow reflect the pain and suffering that Bosnia endured. Kane uses the viewpoints of both oppressor and victim.
Blasted shook Londonīs theatre world with critics unable to handle its violence and energy- "This disgusting feast of filth" ( Jack Tinker, Daily Mail, 19 Jan 1995). Compare the criticism of the play with criticism of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler "a bad escape of moral sewage-gas... the foulest passions of humanity" (quoted in the introduction, Ibsen Plays Two, Metheun).
"Blasted... chooses to blur the distinction between perpetrator and victim by giving the soldier an originary trauma" (Peter Buse, Drama+Theory, Critical Approaches to Modern British Drama, Manchester University Press, 2001). Buse goes on to give an interpretation of the role of the soldier "...there are good reasons to assume that not everything that occurs on stage happens at the level of a single 'reality' but that at least some aspects of the civil war raging outside and the arrival of the soldier, are in fact phantasms of Ian's memory... Cate is never in the room at the same time as the soldier and is therefore no confirmation of his existence outside of Ian's imagination".
Blasted premiered at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London on 12 January 1995. Directed by James Macdonald with Pip Donaghy as Ian, Kate Ashfield as Cate and Dermot Kerrigan as the soldier. A previous version, from 1993, covered the first half of the final version and had a student performance. Kane says "acts of violence simply happen in life, they don't have a dramatic build-up and they are horrible. That is how it is in the play".
Sarah Kane said "Blasted now exists independently of me- as it should do- and to attempt to sum up its genesis and meaning in a few paragraphs would be futile and of only passing interest. what you take that voice to be saying is no concern of mine. It is what it is. Take it or leave it" (Sarah Kane, 1994, quoted in Frontline Intelligence 2: New Plays for the Nineties, edited by Pamela Edwardes, Metheun Drama, 1994).
James Macdonald, the producer, says "a short run meant Blasted was seen by not many more than 1,000 people, making it perhaps the least seen and most talked-about play in recent memory. Meanwhile, lying low in Brixton, Sarah received a surprise delivery at 3pm one afternoon. A fan letter from Harold Pinter. Had he popped down to deliver it himself, she wondered, or was it a lackey in shades and gloves".
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