4:48 Psychosis was the last play written by well known British playwright, Sarah Kane (1971-99), in the fall and winter of 1998-99 on commission by the Royal Court, and first produced at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in 2000. 4:48 Psychosis is a highly poetic ‘open’ text - a primary example of a post-dramatic text. From October 4 through December 4 2004 I worked on Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis in a studio-laboratory setting with an internationally diverse group of twenty actors - ten post-graduate MA/MFA and ten second-year BA students - at the University of Exeter. And in 2008 I directed a full production at Korean National University of the Arts (KNUA) when I was a guest director/teacher there is 20. Four Korean guest artists who had trained with me intensively—Jeungsook Yoo, Sunhee Kim, Hye-Ok Kim, and Kyounghee An--joined me at KNUA to assist with teaching the psychophysical training, and with translation. They also performed alongside the KNUA students as part of the acting ensemble. Jeungsook Yoo served as my translation, and translated 4:48 Psychosis into Korean for our performance. I chose to work on 4:48 because of its challenging content, structure/form, the relative openness of the text, and the sense that it would require strong ensemble performances to materialize this “state of psychosis” in its is-ness beyond character.
The point of departure for the development of the performance score was Kane’s notion that 4:48 Psychosis was an exploration of the multiple prisms of a state of psychosis—a state in which, as Kane described it, one does not “know the difference between myself, this table” and another-a state in which one is “somehow be part of a continuum” and “various boundaries begin to collapse” (Kane quote in Saunders 2002:112). For a full discussion see my chapter in Psychophysical Acting.
All images are from the KNUA Korean production in 2008.