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Toward the Theater of Language: The Interrelationship between Text and Performance in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2019, 32(3), pp.219-244
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Published : December 31, 2019

Sojin Cho 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Sarah Kane’s last play, 4.48 Psychosis, incorporates diverse experiments of theatrical writing that depart from the pre-existing playtext form. The play is often summoned as a quintessential example of Hans-Thies Lehmann’s postdramatic theater, however, the analyses of its postdramatic features have primarily focused on the performance that is promised by the play’s idiosyncratic form. This paper focuses on the written product of 4.48 Psychosis that requires the reader/audience to ‘see’ the text instead of reading it. In so doing, this paper investigates the extent of which the text can be represented in performance and if the text is already functioning as a performance itself. In a paradoxical position between text-as-script and text-as-performance, 4.48 Psychosis inquires into the very opposition between text and performance as it has been conceived by theories in drama and theater. Kane’s writing practice reveals that the text and its performance are integrated around the notion of language and its performative potential. While Kane’s particular focus on ‘text for performance’ seems to favor performance over text, the language of 4.48 Psychosis needs to be at the center of this examination, which means that the focus will be on the printed text while cross-referencing particular stage productions. It is thus precisely by ‘seeing’ the text that it becomes possible to follow how the play’s language promotes a dynamic relationship between text and performance as well as how it challenges traditional concepts of drama.

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