Regional Premiere

Ticket Price

We Suggest $35
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3400 Main St
Houston, TX 77002


Apr 5, 2024 -
Apr 27, 2024

In her brief, boundary breaking career Sarah Kane’s work prompted the term “a theatre of extremes,” yet CLEANSED comes soaked through with hope. Explosively aching, hauntingly poetic, and disarmingly tender, Kane delivers a fever-dream fable of unimaginable brutality and miraculous beauty. Given our country’s immediate threat to the bodies and lives of those of us who look, live, or love beyond the confines of conservative ‘norms,’ 26 years after it was written, CLEANSED feels nightmarishly prescient. More than a play, in 2024’s America, CLEANSED feels like a cause.

"Once you have perceived that life is very cruel, the only response is to live with as much humanity, humor and freedom as you can.” - Sarah Kane

The regional premiere of CLEANSED is co-directed by core artist T Lavois Thiebaud and founding artistic director Jason Nodler, reuniting the creative team behind Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis which The Houston Press called “an imaginative bulldozer of a production.” The production features choreography by Adam Castan͂eda. James Templeton serves as sound, special effects and video designer as well as composer. Lighting design provided by Hudson Davis, properties design by Lauren Davis and costumes by Juan Saracay. We’re thrilled to collaborate with the sculpture group, Moon Papas Art for set construction. No one under 16 admitted.  

The Playwright

SARAH KANE is widely recognized as one of the most radical and influential writers of the last twenty-five 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. Ben Brantley of the New York Times described the SoHo Rep's 2010 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 fourth time her work has been seen in Houston. The first was Infernal Bridegroom’s Phaedra’s Love, also under Nodler’s direction, followed by Catastrophic Theatre’s Crave in 2011 and 4.48 Psychosis (2021).

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.

"What frightened me was the depth of (Kane's) horror and anguish. Everyone's aware, to varying degrees, of the cruelty of mankind, but we manage to compromise with it, put it on the shelf and not think about it for a good part of the day. But I don't think she could do that. I think she had a vision of the world that was extremely accurate, and therefore horrific. Because the world is a fucking awful place. It's a very beautiful place, but this species mankind is an absolute bloody disaster. The elements of sadism are astonishing. She wasn't simply observing mankind; she was part of it. 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

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