Philip Venables

4.48 Psychosis

4.48 Psychosis was the astonishing final work of the radical British playwright Sarah Kane, first performed posthumously in 2000. Detailing the experience of clinical depression, the play harrowingly reveals, through poetry, anger and dark humour, an individual’s struggle to come to terms with their own psychosis, the numbers in the title referring to the time in the early morning when clarity and bleak despair strike together.

Philip Venables’ award-winning operatic adaptation of Kane’s play is the first ever permitted adaptation of any of her work.  The search for love and happiness and the struggle for identity are explored through a fusion of opera with spoken and visual text, bringing a new resonance to the last creative utterances of one of the most courageous young British writers of her generation.  The opera was first presented in 2016 by the Royal Opera in London, in a production by Ted Huffman, and has subsequently seen productions in London, New York City, Strasbourg and Dresden.  The opera was awarded a Royal Philharmonic Society for Best Large Scale Composition 2017, a British Composer Award for Best Stage Work 2017, a UK Theatre Award for Best Opera 2016 and it was shortlisted for an Olivier Award for Best Opera in 2017 and a Southbank Award for Best Opera in 2017.  It has been chosen as one of the best operas of 2019 by The New Yorker Magazine, and was highlighted as one of the most groundbreaking operas of the decade by The Times Literary Supplement.


Duration: 90 minutes, no interval, in 24 short scenes.
Text is in english, but foreign-language versions can be prepared (French, Italian).  A German version is already available.
Cast: 3 sopranos, 3 mezzo-sopranos
Ensemble, 12 players: alto flute + picc, 3 saxes (all sop+bar), piano+synth with organ pedalboard, accordion, 2 percussion (solo roles, some playing from memory), vln+vla, 2 vla, bass.
Percussion: two bass drums, two high-strikers, woodsaw & wood, other standard orchestral percussion.
Sound dispersion: All singers and ensemble amplified.  1 stage speaker (central), stereo sound in auditorium, click tracks to ensemble.
Projection, single projector required.
A significant amount of pre-recorded material must be recorded with the cast.


For more extensive press coverage, click here.

Independent ★★★★★
Guardian ★★★★
Telegraph ★★★★
Financial Times ★★★★
The Stage ★★★★
The Arts Desk ★★★★
The Upcoming ★★★★

Royal Opera Production

Premiere run: 24th – 28th May 2016
Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, London
co-production between The Royal Opera and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Gweneth Ann Rand
Lucy Schaufer
Jennifer Davis
Emily Edmonds
Susanna Hurrell
Clare Presland
Chroma Ensemble
Genevieve Wilkins & Sarah Hatch – percussion
Music Director: Richard Baker

Music: Philip Venables
Text: Sarah Kane
Director: Ted Huffman
Designer: Hannah Clark
Lighting designer: D.M. Wood
Video designer: Pierre Martin
Sound design: Sound Intermedia
Movement director: Sarah Fahie

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