“A Shop Window for Outrage”: Harold Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes, In-Yer Face Theater and the Royal Court’s 1996 West End Season

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Drawing on archival materials from the Royal Court and the Harold Pinter collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Library, this chapter will look at Pinter's 1996 play Ashes to Ashes and its place as the inaugural event for the English Stage Company's (ESC) lease of two theatres in the West End while its Sloane Square home underwent major renovation. The residency, lasting from September 1996 until February 2000 coincided with the high water mark of both 'Cool Britannia' and In-Yer Face Theatre in which work including Mark Ravenhill's Shopping and Fucking (1996), Sarah Kane's Cleansed (1998), Crave (1998) and Martin McDonagh's The Leenane Trilogy (1996-97) shared close associations with ESC.

Pinter's Ashes to Ashes played in repertoire with Ravenhill's Shopping and Fucking and this relationship becomes the basis for the chapter's interest in looking at how the ESC saw itself as a rebellious presence, proclaiming 'there goes the neighbourhood' in its publicity and marketing materials. However, the ESC's relationship with the West End, marked in this instance through the sometimes fractious relationship between the company and Harold Pinter, challenged some of the ESC's cherished principles, and compromises some of the founding myths of In-Yer-Face theatre itself.

The chapter will also seek to reassess and further explore Harold Pinter's relationship to the dramatists associated with In-Yer-Face drama, especially Sarah Kane. Drawing on correspondence between the pair and in particular Kane's own responses to Ashes to Ashes, sheds new light on how we might understand some of Aleks Sierz's ealry definitions of the term he first coined.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfter In-Yer-Face Theatre Remnants of a Theatrical Revolution
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-39427-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-39426-4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


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