Catastrophic to present Houston premiere of Crave by controversial British playwright Sarah Kane


The Catastrophic Theatre is pleased to announce the Houston premiere of Crave by Sarah Kane.  Catastrophic artistic director Jason Nodler will direct an ensemble of Carolyn Houston Boone, Matt Carter, Greg Dean and Mikelle Johnson.

Crave opens Friday, May 20, at DiverseWorks Artspace and runs Wednesdays – Saturdays through June 4.  All performances begin at 8 p.m. and all performances are Pay-What-You-Can.  The play runs 50 minutes with no intermission.


About the Playwright

It seems to me she was talking about the violence within herself, the hatred within herself, and the depths of misery that she also suffered."  – Harold Pinter

Sarah Kane is widely recognized as one of the most radical and influential writers of the last twenty years.  She was at the front of what was once described as Britain’s In-Yer-Face theatre movement (along with Mark Ravenhill of Shopping and Fucking fame) and her work has been described alternately as a “Theatre of Extremes” and an “Ethics of Catastrophe.”  She wrote five plays (Blasted, Phaedra’s Love, Cleansed, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis) and one short film (Skin) before committing suicide in 1999 at the age of 28.

Her first play, Blasted, which premiered in 1995, created a furor in England and started an intense debate in newspapers and tabloids as to whether or not such brutal work should be funded or should even allowed to be performed.  During this period, despite the staunch and virulent opposition from critics, she received strong support from The Royal Court Theatre, an institution with a strong history of identifying and providing a home for adventurous playwrights. Additional support came from prominent playwrights Edward Bond and Harold Pinter, each of whom recognized in her a vital, wholly original voice for the theatre and penned passionate op-eds in her defense. 

Later in her career, with the benefit of hindsight and the fuller body of her work, most critics retracted their prior criticisms and heralded her as an artist of the highest caliber.  Critical praise for Kane’s work continues today, more than 10 years after her death – in 2010 Ben Brantley of the New York Times described the SoHo Rep's production of Kane's Blasted as "one of the most important New York premieres of the decade."

Kane’s work continues to be performed extensively throughout the world and she has developed a cult-like following in many Western countries.  Yet this production will mark only the second time her work has been seen in Houston.  The first was Infernal Bridegroom’s Phaedra’s Love, also under Nodler’s direction.  That production received positive responses from local critics as well as an extremely favorable review in the national trade magazine Theatre Journal.


About the Play

“To create something beautiful about despair, or out of a feeling of despair, is for me the most hopeful, life-affirming thing a person can do.” – Sarah Kane

Always interested in finding new forms of theatre, Kane’s work took a significant turn with Crave.  Where her prior plays had been full of on-stage, physical brutality and violence, here she was focused on emotional states as played out through the music of voices.  Concerned that the play's reception would be affected by her notoriety, Crave premiered in 1998 under the pseudonym Marie Kelvedon.  Critics described Crave as the most hopeful of her plays, though Kane found that characterization odd; she said she wrote it “at a time when [she] had lost faith in love” and considered it to be her most despairing work to date.

Crave is a tour-de-force tone poem for four voices.  The play is non-linear, fragmented and fractured; it bounces through time like the thoughts and feelings of a confused, conflicted and desperate mind.  It meditates obsessively on themes of the inescapability of trauma, love and its inadequacy to wholly redeem, hope and hopelessness, despair and craving.  The play is written in a musical, poetic style, much like Catastrophic’s production of Mickle Maher’s Spirits to Enforce. There is no story, no message and only elusive wisps of narrative.  It is experiential in nature and is driven by the rapid-fire associations of a troubled mind.

Not only does Crave lack an easy or clear narrative; it lacks stage directions, suggestions for setting and even names for the characters.  Interpretation is unavoidable. The Catastrophic approach to the plays it produces is always rooted in intuition, favoring emotional truth over clear storytelling. Because Kane was such a brave writer, one who’s plays lay bare her most extreme feelings, and also because of the opaque and shrouded nature of the people that inhabit them, Crave is perfect fit for a Catastrophic production.


About The Catastrophic Theatre

“I keep coming back in the hope that someone in a darkened room somewhere will show me an image that burns itself into my mind.” – Sarah Kane

Catastrophic’s production of Crave continues the company’s tradition of introducing bold, poetic, nakedly honest voices for the theatre to Houston audiences.  Mickey Birnbaum, Mickle Maher, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Wallace Shawn, Richard Foreman, Lisa D’Amour, Sarah Kane.  These otherwise singular writers belong to a school, though they have not officially been recognized as such; they write in poetry, they deal in extreme situations and catastrophic states.  They are as honest as they are elusive, as mysterious as they are sincere.

Writers like these, and the opportunity to share their worlds with Houston audiences, are the reason The Catastrophic Theatre exists.