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Theatre of Cruelty

HSC Drama 2013
by

Mackenzie Scott

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of Theatre of Cruelty

Antonin Artaud Theatre of Cruelty Tell me more... Influences on the Theatre
of Cruelty The Details Staging the Theatre of Cruelty The Stage The Auditorium is a large element of the theatre as a whole. The Audience are seated on swivel stools in the middle of and below the stage. The actors work in galleries around the circumference of the room, making the audience turn in their seats

This is to make the audience feel trapped and powerless. Sound and Lighting Sound What was the Theatre
of Cruelty? The inspiration that encouraged Artaud to create the Theatre of Cruelty came from the inspiration of authors and artists such as Seneca, Shakespeare, Poe, Laureamont, Alfred Jarry and Andre Masson. Artuad was also greatly influenced by the viewing of a Colonial Exposition of Balinese Theatre in 1931. He admired Eastern theatre He was stunned with the difference between those plays and our traditional Western play. “because of the codified, highly ritualized and precise physicality of Balinese dance performance”. “A dramatic presentation should be an act of initiation during which the spectator will be awed and even terrified--and to such a degree that he will lose control of his reason.” Sigmund Freud published his theories of people’s mental behaviour; the influence and consequences of unconscious in our acts and social relationships had become a very controversial theme in several and different contexts. Many artists like Antonin, “explored their inner thoughts and based their life and art creations on the idea that truth, without moral masks, should be released from our souls.” Artaud spent much time of his life in mental hospitals because of his psychological problems. In his youth, he was a very reflective person who passed through pessimistic and depressive periods. His readings of Freud’s theories, Nietzsche’s nihilistic ideas or even Van Gogh’s neo-impressionist art influenced his work. He got involved with the surrealistic movement from whom he took the idea of releasing the unconscious as an art expression and as a therapy. Artuad was fascinated as words were not the essential feature within the theatre. Artuad was absolutely convinced that words are incapable of expressing certain attitudes and feelings, and that these can be revealed only through gestures, sounds or symbolically felt. The Actor in the Theatre
of Cruelty The Audience in the Theatre of Cruelty A large influence was placed on sound in Artaud's vision as he realised its power to engage the audiences sub-conscious This was seen largley in "The Cenci" (1935)

The audience was greeted by Church bells from all sides of the theatre as they walked in, the recorded sound of actors footprints were played on full volume and actors were shouting' Centi Rose'. All these noises were suddenly stopped. Music was used to send vibrations to the audience as a snake charmer would do. The audience was also provided with loud, high-pitched noises as a form of tourture Lighting Artaud constantly wanted to push the boundaries on how light could be used in performance ''We must discover osillating light effects, new ways of diffusing lighting in waves, sheet lighting like a flight of fire-arrows' He saw lighting as a force, that when used with all the other aspects of the staging, became an almost physical part of the action The Theatre of Cruelty is a surrealist form of theatre, in which Antonin Artaud hoped to create unconscious responses in both audience and performers, which were not normally portrayed in regular theatre. Artaud disliked the idea of performances being based on well-known classical texts or established literary forms, and thus didn’t want his
productions to be artificial and irrelevant. Artaud’s greatest aim was for the audience to realise their greatest fears and worst nightmares, and provoke in them an instinct that would have occurred in the primitive world, but
due to society and its opinion on how people should act, was hidden. He argued that his concept wasn’t sadistic, but rather an honest and true confrontation of the responses to nightmares people should portray. This idea is done by using lighting, music and sound effects to portray a deeper nightmare. Instead of using dialogue, “The noises, music and colours that generally accompany the lines would in places substitute for them.” Screams, grunts, groans yelps, sighs as well as gestures and other movements was able to be used by the performers to live through, and feel what they were doing, rather than just thinking about it. This use of gestures, sound and thoughts, create a unique language portrayed in the Theatre Of Cruelty, and was used more often than dialogue. In order for the audience to be shocked, the extremes of human nature, such as madness and perversion, are graphically portrayed onstage, which Artaud hoped would create the desired response. This was done, not only using gestures and soundscapes, but also with grotesque oversized puppets and extreme lighting. For the Theatre of Cruelty, an actor goes through similar training as an athlete with a large focus n the area of breath control Artaud also insisted on the actor screaming saying: "In Europe, no-one knows how to scream anymore, partticuarly actors in a trancce no onger know how to cry out,since thy do nothing but talk, having
forgotten they have a body on stage, they have also lost the use of their throats" Actors were also encouraged to use masks and puppets or 'objects of strange proportions'. This gave the theatre a sense of 'magic beauty' The Theatre of Cruelty was intend to challenge the audience and effect their emotions through manipulations of circumstances Through affecting all the senses and keeping the audience in a constant state of uncertainty, the audience reaches a state of emotional release or catharsis Antonin Artaud (4 September 1896 – 4 March 1948) was French poet, actor, and drama theorist. He wrote Surrealist poetry and acted in Surrealist productions in Paris. His theory of drama was something he called the Manifesto of the Theatre of Cruelty. His own plays were flops, but his theories exerted great influence on playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Lifelong mental illness confined him periodically to asylums from 1936.

Most critics believe that Artaud's most noted contribution to drama theory is his "theater of cruelty," an intense theatrical experience that combined elaborate props, magic tricks, special lighting, primitive gestures and articulations, and themes of rape, torture, and murder to shock the audience into confronting the base elements of life. Les Cenci, Artaud's play about a man who rapes his own daughter and is then murdered by men the girl hires to eliminate him, typifies Artaud's theatre of cruelty.

Artaud believed that theatre should affect the audience as much as possible, therefore he used a mixture of strange and disturbing forms of lighting, sound, and other performance elements.

The Theatre of Cruelty has been created in order to restore to the theatre a passionate and convulsive conception of life, and it is in this sense of violent rigour and extreme condensation of scenic elements that the cruelty on which it is based must be understood.
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