In-Yer-Face in Taiwan
: Mark Ravenhill and Contemporary Taiwanese Political Playwriting

  • Yung-Chen Liu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis aims to interrogate the possibilities of a new kind of political playwriting to address the problems and conflicts of contemporary Taiwan. Drawing on existing observations and research on the problems of current Taiwanese democratic political systems, it seems that the crisis of losing Taiwanese subjectivity and nationality are growing, with both domestic and external threats. However, Taiwanese political theatre is ineffective and unable to reflect on this phenomenon; mainstream playwrights or theatrical producers seem apolitical and apathetic because of a perceived inability to change reality.
A similar circumstance can be found in works from 1990s Britain, termed by Aleks Sierz ‘in-yer-face theatre’. In these works, young playwrights applied violent, erotic and disturbing images to gain unprecedented attention and demonstrate how theatre could intervene in the public sphere. Mark Ravenhill can be seen as a representative of this group, he utilizes a particular dramaturgy to present his characters from the angle of queerness: a marginal position from which to critique the dehumanizing process of capitalism. This research will explore how Ravenhill employs shocking scenarios in his writing, and the effect he desires to achieve.
According to my analysis of Ravenhill’s dramaturgy, which I term the Queer’s Journey. It will bring out a valuable methodology for my own political playwriting as a practice, that adapted for the Taiwanese political context. The story will be based on true figures in the history of Taiwanese democratization and will be contrasted with the contemporary troubles and plights which the democratic government still fails to resolve or answer. By introducing Ravenhill’s dramaturgy to today’s Taiwan, I hope it will develop a newer philosophical and methodological model for Taiwanese in-yer-face theatre, which will bring to a new wave of political playwriting.
Date of Award29 Sept 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorSimon P Jones (Supervisor) & Katja Krebs (Supervisor)

Cite this