Laura Swift

Laura Swift
author

How Far Should We Go When Depicting Violence on Stage?

Last year, London audiences have been horrified by the violence shown on stage in the National Theatre’s production of Sarah Kane’s play Cleansed. The National’s own website rather euphemistically describes the production as “unflinching,” but media reports have dwelt on the gory action in more detail. The play involves electrocution, incest, forced sex-reassignment surgery, and in a scene that has particularly shocked audiences, one character has their tongue cut out and hands placed in a shredder. In the play’s first week, five audience members fainted, requiring medical attention. Many others have walked out of the performance. Critics’ responses have...

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