'SHOCKING' PLAYS HAVE ACADEMIC APPEAL

Issue date: 30 August 2002


UWE is to host the first UK conference to focus retrospectively on the provocative and controversial British drama of the 1990's.

This international conference will bring together those interested in contemporary British theatre and particularly the aggressive and confrontational drama of the 1990's. The conference, entitled 'In-Yer-Face? British Drama in the 1990s', will map out this particular style of drama and ask how the 'caring, sharing 90s' spawned such violent and confrontational material. Many of the plays under discussion contained sex, violence and swearing and were reviled by critics with attempts being made to ban some of them.

The Conference will take place on the 6 and 7 September 2002, at the St Matthias Campus of the University of the West of England.

Organiser Dr Rebecca D'Monté (UWE) says, "We feel this is an appropriate time to look at new trends in British drama as there is a lot of interest from theatre reviewers, audiences and universities. Some critics are suggesting there is a new ‘golden age’ of theatre, similar to the ‘Angry Young Men’ of 1956, or even the ‘Theatre of Blood’ during the Jacobean age. By bringing together critics, playwrights, academics, directors and actors, all aspects of performance and theory can be considered. This will provide an exciting and unusual forum, including guest speakers, plenary sessions, an interview, and a performance piece."

One of the keynote speakers will be Aleks Sierz, author of 'In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today' (Faber and Faber 2000).

Dr Graham Saunders (UWE), who is also organising this conference, has published the first book on writer Sarah Kane 'Love Me or Kill Me: Sarah Kane and the Theatre of Extremes' (2002). Sarah Kane's play 'Blasted' in 1995 was reviled by critics and contained shocking material. She went on to write other plays but committed suicide at the age of 28. Graham Saunders was recently interviewed about his book at the Royal Court Theatre in London where Sarah's last play ‘4.48 Psychosis’ was produced posthumously in 2000.

Dr Saunders says, "We feel that this area of drama is highly topical at present, and will show UWE to be at the cutting edge of drama. It is a challenging subject and this will be an ambitious and important conference in the field of contemporary British drama."

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