Blasted at the Queens Hotel: coincidence of sign and site

Hudson, James (2013) Blasted at the Queens Hotel: coincidence of sign and site. Performance Research, 18 (3). pp. 32-37. ISSN 1352-8165

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This article examines the 2008 site-responsive production of Sarah Kane's Blasted, performed in the Queens Hotel in Leeds by theatre company nineteen;twentynine. The production provides a particularly pellucid example of scenographical specificity in a dramatic event, since the signified location (the hotel room) was supposedly a veridical counterpart to the signifying textual referent indicated in Kane's original text. Nonetheless while the company marketed the production in terms of its ‘authenticity’, it was at the same time criticised for lacking the necessary ‘realism’ that the play putatively requires (nineteen;twentynine 2012; Gardner (2008)). Using this production as a point of departure, this article extrapolates to make some observations about the functioning of metaphor in Kane's play and in environmental theatre more generally. It considers questions about the operability of the spectator as imaginative participant in the theatrical event where the use of a verisimilitudinous site exercises a totality of semiotic signification compared to the essentially synecdochic quality of a theatre space. In this instance of site-specific transplantation, nineteen;twentynine's Blasted surrendered its opportunity to exploit the artificiality inherently afforded by a theatrical mise en scène, in the process partly relinquishing productive engagement with the figurative dimensions of Kane's style, which self-reflexively interrogates the interpenetration of metaphor and reality within drama. As such the production provides an instance of a theatrical event which effaces the usual non-identical difference between sign and signified, its scenographical quiddity subordinating the potential for generating imaginative spectatorial responses produced by a particular type of theatrical artifice to a more overtly didactic and less imaginatively enabling order of representation.

Additional Information:Special Issue: On Scenography, Published online: 24 Sep 2013
Keywords:Blasted, Sarah Kane, Queen's Hotel, Site specific theatre
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:9988
Deposited On:13 Jun 2013 15:42

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