Saturday, March 8, 2008

Theatre of Cruelty

Antonin Artaud, the French playwright, (why is playwright spelled that way?) actor, director, poet, is a man we should cuddle up to; particularly with his manifesto "The Theatre and Its Double" which includes his idea of a Theatre of Cruelty. The following is a
a fantastic excerpt from Artaud:


"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. This cruelty, which will be bloody when necessary but not systematically so, can thus be identified with a kind of severe moral purity which is not afraid to pay life the price it must be paid."


Bravo, Artaud. I particularly enjoyed this bit of biographical information:


In 1937, Artaud returned to France where he obtained a walking stick of knotted wood that he believed belonged to St. Patrick, but also Lucifer and Jesus Christ. Artaud traveled to Ireland in an effort to return the staff, though he spoke very little English and was unable to make himself understood. The majority of his trip was spent in a hotel room that he was unable to pay for. On his return trip, Artaud believed he was being attacked by two crew members and retaliated; he was arrested and put in a straitjacket.

Bravo, Artaud.

Some development of this Theatre of Cruelty should be pursued further with Sartre and Nietzsche. As I am only a novice in this area, Chris maybe you can bring your considerable wealth of knowledge to shed some enlightenment on this matter (considering other avenues of course).

1 comment:

c.harris.stevens said...

Although I altogether lack knowledge of your prompting to this material, both of your interest and the philosophical outline sketched out for you, I will - with my limited knowledge of those philosophers - attempt fill the gap created by your inquiry. Moreso than site texts or prior knowledge, I’ll pivot between two points, the anchored foot being Artaud and combinations of Sarte, Nietzsche and others with the other. Most of all, thanks for bringing him to the fore. This tone is now dead.