Theatre of the Abused

BBC Radio 4 Documentary

BBC Radio 4 Documentary


A radical wave of feminist theatre has taken the subject of sexual violence to a new level – depicting attacks against women in explicit, visceral and disturbing detail. In this programme playwright April de Angelis examines if it has gone too far.

Is there really a need to show so much violence on stage? From feminist comedy to verbatim theatre so powerful it leaves you reeling, women are getting their stories seen like never before. April asks if acting out sexual violence in all its gory detail, moves women forward in the debate or does it run the risk of becoming simply voyeuristic? She speaks with four women theatremakers whose plays all take a very different approach to the subject.

Yael Farber’s “Nirbhaya” gave voice to previously silent victims in a devastating look at the breadth of violence perpetrated against women in India, reflected through the lens of the tragic death of Jyoti Singh Pandey. “A Girl is A Half Formed Thing” powerfully examined the lifetime of abuse a young girl was subjected to in a gut-wrenching and shattering monologue. “Freak” led us through the sexual journeys of aunt and niece, in a world where the line between sex, violence and ownership of one’s own sexuality is dangerously fragile. The National Theatre takes on feminism with their play “Blurred Lines” which angrily questioned the objectification and victimisation of women, as depicted in pop videos.

April also speaks with Dr Lucy Nevitt, author of ‘Theatre and Violence’, cultural sociologist Dr Tiffany Jenkins who believes the portrayal of sexual violence onstage is too often demeaning and to Lyn Gardner, the theatre critic who has written extensively on the subject.

Producer: Susannah Tresilian.

What people said:

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.26.46 Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.26.55 Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.27.02 Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.27.10 Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.27.17 Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.27.26 Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.27.33