How Did in‐Yer‐Face Theatre Reflect the Social and Political Climate of Post Thatcher Britain?

Topics: Margaret Thatcher, Falklands War, Conservative Party Pages: 32 (11705 words) Published: April 14, 2013
University of Portsmouth PORTSMOUTH Hants UNITED KINGDOM PO1 2UP This Dissertation
Burdon, Chelsey (2009) How did in-yer-face theatre reflect the social and political climate of post Thatcher Britain? BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth. Has been retrieved from the University of Portsmouth’s Research Repository: http://eprints.port.ac.uk

To contact the Research Repository Manager email:
ir@port.ac.ukHow did In‐Yer‐Face theatre reflect the social and political climate of Post Thatcher Britain? Chelsey Burdon 362007
University of Portsmouth
School of Creative Arts, Film and Media Studies April 2009
Dissertation submitted in part fulfilment for the requirements of the BA (Hons) Film and Drama 1
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Table of Contents
AbstractPg3 IntroductionPg4
Chapter One “What Society? There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”Pg11 Chapter Two
“We had to fight an enemy in the Falklands.... We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty”Pg19 Chapter Three
“If you want something said‐ ask a man. If you want something done‐ask a woman” Conclusion Bibliography
Pg28
Pg38 Pg42
2
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Abstract
This study uses critical reviews and textual analyses of 5 key In‐Yer‐Face plays, alongside contextual information regarding the political backdrop of 1990’s Britain, in an attempt to establish a relationship between this provocative form of theatre and the social and political climate of Britain in the wake of Thatcherism. The dramatic texts within this study cover a range of themes and differ greatly in terms of content, yet they share an aesthetic of cruelty and confrontational flair that places them under an umbrella term known as In‐Yer‐Face theatre, popularised in the mid 1990’s and produced predominantly by young, emerging playwrights. Each chapter takes a well known quote from Margaret Thatcher as a starting point by which to deconstruct elements of British Ideology and culture, positing the dramatic texts alongside the attitudes of Thatcherism and analysing them in light of their contextual background. The first chapter looks at David Eldridge’s Serving it Up and Judy Uptons Ashes and Sand with particular regards to unemployment, the class divide and British Nationalism looking specifically at the teenage generation. The second chapter focuses on the infamous Sarah Kane play Blasted and attempts to establish what its writer is trying to convey about war and Britain’s relation to and attitude towards it. Finally the 3rd chapter looks at the role of gender and sexuality in Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping and Fucking and Martin Crimp’s Attempts on her Life with particular reference to the crisis of masculinity and the fracturing of gender identities. This breadth of thematic study is underpinned by a grounded understanding of the political and social issues surrounding the plays and the policies and ideals put into practice by the Thatcherite government that may have influenced the writers. 3

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How did In‐Yer‐Face theatre reflect the social and political climate of Post Thatcher Britain? Introduction
“Theatre is not external force acting upon society, but a part of it. It’s a reflection of the way people within that society view the world” Sarah Kane (Sierz, 2001a, p.93)
The above quote came from the late Sarah Kane; arguably one of the most progressive British dramatists of the 20th century. My dissertation plans to be an exploration of that statement, with particular analysis of the mid 90’s genre of theatre; which became most commonly known as In‐Yer‐Face Theatre, I intend to explore to what extent British Theatre of this period reflected the country’s political and social climate. To what extent did plays like Blasted, Shopping and F**king and Serving it up really comment on the British ideology, if at all? What was it about Britain in this post Thatcher era that encouraged and inspired so many new...


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Playwright Kane Found Dead (1999) Retrieved December 10th, 2008 from the BBC news website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/284378.stm
Ravenhill, M. (1999, 23 February). Obituary: Sarah Kane. The Independent. Retrieved December 10th, 2008 from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts‐ entertainment/obituary‐sarah‐kane‐1072624.html
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Sierz, A (2001b, February 17) Outrage Theatres gave young writers freedom‐ no ideologies, no rules, no taste
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Spencer, C. (2007, Feb 21) Looking forward in a different class of anger. The Telegraph. Retrieved December 10th, 2008 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/drama/3663150/Looking‐forward‐in‐ a‐different‐class‐of‐anger.html
They Said What?
TV Interview for Granada: World in Action. (1978) [Transcript]. Retrieved September 20, 2008 from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=103485
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Urban, K. (2001) An Ethics of Catastrophe: The Theatre of Sarah Kane. [Electronic Version] A Journal of Performance and Art, 23 (3), 36‐46
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Zimmerman, H. (2003) Images of woman in Martin Crimp’s Attempts on her Life [Electronic Version]. European Journal of English Studies, 7(1), pp.69‐85
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