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Artaud- Theatre of Cruelty

A short presentation on Antonin Artaud and his theories
by

Katrina Cumberland

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Artaud- Theatre of Cruelty

A short presentation on Antonin
Artaud's theories Artaud- Theatre of Cruelty Very Brief History Artaud was French.
In his teenage years he discovered his love for AVANT-GARDE theatre (innovative/experimental theatre)
However, Artaud suffered from clinical depression, and many leading historians identify his mentality as his motivation and inspiration for his theatre and his theories Artaud's Theories and Views He thought society and theatre had become an empty shell.
He considered cruelty not as a physical violence, but the pain and cruelty that he felt the actors must endure to show to the audience a truth they wanted to be ignorant of.
He believed that text had become meaningless and thus decided upon a drama which was halfway between thought and gesture
He viewed all expression to be physical in space. Theatre of Cruelty The kind of theatre Artaud envisaged would use the classics but only after subjecting them to a radical overhaul. Lighting, sound equipment and other technical means would no longer subserve the text; they would partially replace it. The noises, music and colours that generally accompany the lines would in places substitute for them. They would be fortified by a range of human noises- screams, grunts, moans, sighs, yelps- together with a repertoire of gestures, signs and other movements. These would extend the range of the actor's art and the receptivity of the spectator. To put it another way, they would enlarge the theatre's vocabulary…They would surrender themselves to a performance, live through it and feel it, rather than merely think about it.
Artaud's Theories Furthermore, when we speak the word "life", it must be understood we are not referring to life as we know it from the surface of fact, but to that fragile, fluctuating center which forms never reach. And if there is one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, when instead we should become as victims burning at the stake, signaling each other through the flames. "Without an element of cruelty
at the root of every spectacle, the
theatre is not possible."
The true purpose of the theatre is to create Myths; to express life in its immense universal aspect, and from that life to extract images in which we find pleasure in discovering ourselves. Artaud employed the word "cruelty" in the sense of an appetite for life, a cosmic rigor, an implacable necessity, in the gnostic sense of a living whirlwind that devours the darkness; it is the consequence of an act. Everything that acts is a cruelty. It is upon this idea of extreme action, pushed beyond all limits, that theatre must be rebuilt. The belief in a fluid materiality of the soul is indispensable to the actor's craft.
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