Vanishing Acts: Sarah Kane’s Texts for Performance and Postdramatic Theatre

Matthew Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Written as texts for performance, Sarah Kane’s Crave and 4.48 Psychosis challenge the traditional dichotomy between dramatic literature and performance and reveal that the concept of presence often determines the authority that is invested either in performance or in text whenever the two are opposed. If we take Hans-Thies Lehmann’s elucidation of the “performance text” seriously, Kane’s notion of a text for performance provides the opportunity to rethink the text from within a postdramatic context, naming how complex aesthetic variables (including, but not limited to, printed content) interact to create a theatrical work. Yet, while performance influenced Kane’s effort to make theatre, her last two works question more traditional conceptualizations of performance as a present event that may refer to life itself. Kane, therefore, offers an opportunity to rethink performance postdramatically, whereby performance may be defined as the assemblage of a text that gives time and space to present life’s deferral.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-111
Number of pages18
JournalModern Drama
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • 4.48 Psychosis
  • Crave
  • Sarah Kane
  • performance text
  • postdramatic theatre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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