The Theatre of Cruelty: Why Do We Like Watching Pain on Stage?

Play’s such as Sarah Kane’s "Cleansed" are not horror plays, or thriller plays, but nevertheless they contain, almost to the point of excluding everything else, a number of scenes of torture, pain and mutilation. Perhaps with reference to the Ancient greek theory of catharsis, examine what makes plays and media such as this so compelling, and why theatre companies keep staging them.

  • I would like to add a note that "Theatre of Cruelty" does not necessarily just refer to watching pain onstage. Theatre of Cruelty is a dramaturgical technique which is according to Artaud, an assault of the senses. I would hope that an article on this would first explain how Sarah Kane's "Cleansed" falls into this category before explaining why audiences respond to it. That being said, this play is not all that well known. Is it a good idea to explore the popularity of Theatre of Cruelty in a play that is not that popular? Finally avoid words like "we" as the writer cannot speak on behalf of the reader and "we" is a generalization. Not everyone likes to watch pain onstage so please be specific. Thanks. – Christen Mandracchia 8 years ago
  • I've been seeing a lot of comments like Christen's, on how the topic are too broad or include all instead of the specific group. I have mixed feelings about this, so I suppose the decision lies in you. Looking forward to reading this article. – Alstroemeria 8 years ago
  • If you must explore Sarah Kane, there is plenty to explore in both Blasted and 4.48 Psychosis, but both are probably more well known, as Christen says that Cleansed is not. (Maybe exploring the works of Sarah Kane is an option, given that her work is rather limited). And yes, the Theatre of Cruelty note is very important. It seems unclear to me if the topic is meant to explore Artaud, or just the portrayal of pain. – chandlerwp 8 years ago

Want to write about Literature or other art forms?

Create writer account