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Back catalogue: in-yer-face in popular culture

A selection of quotations:

808 State, 'In Yer Face' (dance track title, 1991)

"[Tony] Parsons sounded as if he were reading out an article from some in-yer-Face publication over selected shots of proletarian degradation: peroxide shopgirls tottering down the street, young men at a karaoke night with pale, blue-veined bellies that plopped like haggises." (Allison Pearson, Independent review, 1992)

"You may not like these in-your-face productions; but they are quite impossible to ignore." (Charles Spencer, Trainspotting review, 1995)

"And whether people want this in-yer-face style pantomime when they're curling up in front of the box after work is another matter altogether." (Maxton Walker, Independent television review, 1995)

"I think that in-your-face theatre is coming back - and that is good." (Anthony Neilson, 1995)

"The two previous productions of the play brought actors within inches of the audience, and such in-yer-face realism is inevitably reduced when it is staged, this time by Gibson, for a tour of proscenium arch theatres." (Jeremy Kingston, Trainspotting review, 1995)

"Last year's in-yer-face theatre gets the welcome addition of in-yer-heart emotional commitment." (Ian Herbert, Theatre Record, 1996)

"So here's a story from A to Z, you wanna get with me
you gotta listen carefully,

We got Em in the place who likes it in-yer-face,..." (Spice Girls, 'Wannabe', 1996)

"Kane, you will remember, wrote Blasted, last year's sensation, with its baby-eating, eye-gouging, homosexual rape and a lot of other 'in-yer-face' activities." (David Nathan, Phaedra's Love review, 1996)

"It's a deeply uneven, in-your-face play." (Michael Billington, Shopping and Fucking review, 1996)

"From the opening sequence of a television followed by a kinetic in-yer-face staccato of imagery, to the softer ballet-like camera work of the passion scenes between the two protagonists, R&J is definitely cinema of cool." (Anthony Leong, William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet movie review, 1997)

"This is the territory of Judy Upton, Sarah Kane and our own in-yer-face school (including Crimp himself in Attempts on Her Life)." (Ian Herbert, Theatre Record, 1997)

"The Angel of the North, a grand in-your-face project of public art, now proudly on display as a prized symbol of an entire region." (Chris Smith, Creative Britain, 1998)

"The Turner Prize could not have been won by a nicer fellow than film-maker Steve McQueen. Given the blanket coverage roused by beaten front-runner Tracey Emin's in-yer-face stubborn stains, it is an irony that the prize should have gone to an artist who avoided publicity and let his work speak for itself..." (David Lee, 'Steve McQueen: A Critique', 1999)

"The rise of 'in-yer-face' drama took a play with three asterixes in the title to the newly-christened Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. Mark Ravenhill's capacity to shock in Shopping and F---ing (1996) was never wholly divorced from a less appealing streak of puritanism. Blasted, the play that catapulted Sarah Kane to fame in 1995, played in a 60-seat theatre: a smaller seating capacity, that is, than a double-decker bus." (Robert Butler, 'The 1990s in review', Independent, 1999)

"So that the verbs and nouns stick out - in your face. In your face. That's the phrase, isn't it? That's the phrase! In your face!" (Simon Gray, Japes, 2000)

"But what he [Billy Connolly] is selling is still gritty, in-yer-face-Jimmy Scottishness for which there will always be a market as long as the English are shockable, Americans are prissy and third-generation Aussies are seeking an identity." (Tom Brown, New Statesman comedy review, 2000)

"He is likely to be younger, better educated (there are now 10,000 graduate cops), less deferential. His style is 'in yer face' and he considers himself 'professional', not in the sense a doctor is professional, but as a footballer is." (Robert Chessyre, 'Profile of the British Bobby', New Statesman, 2000)

"[Gregory] Burke's meteoric rise and a higher rate of '****s' and '****s' per 100 words than Irvine Welsh make him a press officer's dream, at a time when the brutalism of 'in-yer-face' theatre seems to be the sine qua non for a theatre wishing to appear young and relevant." (THES, Gagarin Way review, 2001)

"Despite clear video evidence, to the contrary showing an out-of-wellied crowd of about 30 disgruntled Welsh farmers, in five years there will be about 50,000 people able to tell you how they were there, in the front line of British politics' 'In Yer Face' Years." (BBC messageboard reaction to John Prescott punching a protester, 2001)

"This was the nineties - the 'lottery age' - the 'in-yer-face' age. Modesty and reticence were out." (Simon Napier-Bell, Black Vinyl, White Powder, 2002)

"Act Two, Scene Three: In-Yer-Face Theatre." (Stage direction, April De Angelis, A Laughing Matter, 2002)

"Since 1998, our In-yer-face Theatre experts have helped master, doctoral, and post-graduate students worldwide by providing the most comprehensive research service on the Internet for In-yer-face Theatre studies and coursework." (Internet papermill publicity, c 2002)

"In yer face (end of British reserve and new enthusiasm/assertiveness in public and private behaviour) also terms like 'up for it', 'upfront', 'go for it' - slogans expressing aggressive individualist ambition and self-fulfilment. In yer face started as a phrase that was used to criticise aggressive behaviour. In black American street slang, you would hear 'she was in my face' or 'get outta my face' meaning that someone was being too assertive or intrusive or pushy. Now in media-talk and casual conversation it's used almost approvingly, meaning very confident and powerful and uninhibited (and that last one is the clue - it's the British throwing off their traditional reserve and shyness)." (Tony Thorne, 'Buzzword Quiz', 2003)

"The line between being exciting and offensive is a fine one, new writing must be provocative but we have to entertain. Relentless In yer face Theatre rapidly becomes tedious." (Mike Bradwell, 2003)

"In Yer Face were established in 1996 and is today one of the UK's leading Christian theatre companies." (In Yer Face Christian Theatre Company publicity, c 2003)

"In Yer Face are a sussex based function / covers band offering a refreshing alternative to the traditional show band formula." (IYF publicity, 2005)

"Ten years ago, the Royal Court was the focus for what became known as 'in-yer-face' theatre." (Michael Billington, Guardian review, 2005)

"IN YER FACE is a relaxed cruise club open from 6pm until 9pm every Monday and Wednesday." (London club publicity, c 2005)

"Yes, I was put in the book, there's a chapter on me. He's kind of opportunistic, Aleks Sierz - and he opportunistically wrote, 'Joe isn't really part of the in-yer-face crowd, but I want to write about him anyway.'" (Joe Penhall, 2006)

"Seems like the Brit 'in yer face' humour is finally catching on this side of the pond." (American messageboard, 2006)

"Carlton In Yer Face Badminton Racket." (Carlton sports equipment publicity, c 2006)

"In yer face and yer classroom!" (TES article headline, 2006)

"As soon as he came out of art school, however, he set about provoking the hell out of anyone who was watching with a series of creepy portrayals of masturbating men. The most memorable of these in-yer-face onanists, a blobby chap in a spooky painting called The Big Night Down the Drain, is apparently a portrait of the Irish poet Brendan Behan, who had turned up on stage in Berlin so drunk that he didn’t realise his flies were open. According to Baselitz, Behan’s dangling howitzer seemed to bring a sense of occasion to the event." (Waldemar Januszczak, Sunday Times art review, 2007)

"I will presume that you know about the 'In-yer-face' school of theatre, of which I was allegedly a proponent." (Anthony Neilson, 2007)

"The Hacienda gig last week inspired me to remix one of my all time favorite 808 tunes 'In Yer Face' [1991]. hope you guys like it." (Jedeye, 808 messageboard posting, 2008)

"The term 'In Yer Face' theatre was already very popular at that time and it was felt that, even looking at it diagrammatically in our notebooks, the idea was in danger of being 'In Yer Face' made terribly real." (Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, The Frantic Assembly Book of Devising Theatre, 2009)

By 2010, a book about seeing the world from the point of view of a dog featured “what I called an in-your-face — presenting oneself in front of, and very close to the face of, another dog — is effective at getting attention” (Alexandra Horowitz, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know).


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What's in-yer-face theatre?
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