Chippendale, Kerry (2020) In-Yer-Face Theatre: Myth or Movement. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis is an investigation into Aleks Sierz’s coinage and categorisation of in-yer-face theatre which exploded onto the theatrical scene in England in the mid-late 1990s, and famously shocked audiences with its ruthless commitment to extremes. However, the thesis questions Sierz’s designation of in-yer-face theatre and the conclusions made in his book Inyer-face theatre: British Drama Today. Firstly, it questions the coinage, and whether in-yerface theatre is an apt term for the plays it is meant to encompass; and secondly, whether the plays labelled as in-yer-face are adequately similar enough to be categorised together. This thesis uses a range of methodologies in order to elucidate perspectives about this controversial theatrical sensibility. Each chapter involves a different approach. Distant reading, inspired by Franco Moretti, diagrammatically shows the disparity between the plays by quantifying the affective shock tactics which Sierz argues unite them. Close reading then analyses certain aspects of the plays to highlight similarities and differences on a micro-level. Lastly, secondary reading of the play’s reviews is used to add context to Sierz’s criticism, linking between his formulations about in-yer-face theatre to the notorious media storm around the ground-breaking playwright Sarah Kane. The interplay between these methodologies and chapters reveals that there is something unique about Sarah Kane and her plays Blasted and Cleansed. I argue that Sierz used Kane’s success to frame a range of plays as in-yer-face theatre, yet Kane’s uniqueness is such that her work is not prototypical for 1990s theatre.

FINAL THESIS - Chippendale.pdf - Accepted Version
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