New Theatre Quarterly

Still In-Yer-Face? Towards a Critique and a Summation

Aleks Sierz 


The dramatic upsurge of contemporary new writing on British stages in the past decade, and the emergence of a fresh generation of playwrights led by such talents as Mark Ravenhill, Philip Ridley, Joe Penhall, Phyllis Nagy, Patrick Marber, and the late Sarah Kane, has been variously characterized as the ‘New Brutalism’ or even, in Germany, as the ‘Blood and Sperm Generation’. Here, Aleks Sierz summarizes the argument for ‘In-Yer-Face Theatre’ as the most pertinent and inclusive description for the phenomenon, listing its salient characteristics and suggesting the areas in which it is most vulnerable to criticism. Aleks Sierz is theatre critic of Tribune and writes about theatre for several publications. He is the author of In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today (London: Faber, 2001) and teaches journalism at Goldsmiths College, University of London. An earlier version of this article was given as a paper at the In-Yer-Face Theatre: Sarah Kane and the New British Dramaturgy conference at Stendhal University 3, Grenoble, in May 2001.