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and it’s
Artaud’s Actor

Highly trained
Breath control
Semi-ritualistic chants of Eastern religions
Emotional release
Artaud’s Theatre
Alternative theatre spaces
Audience at the centre of the action
Audience trapped and powerless
A sensory experience
No boundaries between actor and audience
Use of galleries
Full musical scores used
Recorded sound used at full volume
Sophisticated lighting effects
Example – The Cenci (1935)

“The auditorium will be enclosed within four walls, stripped of any ornament, with
the audience seated below, in the middle, on swivelling chairs, allowing them to
follow the show taking place around them.”
[T& ID, 1985. p.75]
Puppetry and Mask

Symbolism rather than functionalism

Emphasise sense of ritual
Cruel and archetypal
Example – Ubu Roi (1896)
Based on signs, not dialogue
Anti – character
Extended means of communication
Speech replaced by sound patterns
Dada poetry
Phonetic Poem (1917) Hugo Ball

jolifanto bambla o falli bambla hej tatta gorem

grossiga m’pfa habla horem eschige zunbada
egiga goramen wulubu ssubudu uluw ssubudu
higo bloiko russula huju tumba ba – umf
hollaka hollaka kusagauma
anlogo bung ba – umf
blago bung
blago bung
bosso fataka
u uu u
schampa wulla wussa olobo [Waldberg, P., Surrealism, 1965]
There is no more firmament
“Darkness. Explosions in the Dark. Harmonies cut short. Raw sounds. Sound blurring.
The music gives the impression of a far-off cataclysm; it envelops the theatre, falling
as if from a vertiginous height. Chords are stuck in the sky; they dissipate, going from
on extreme to the other. Sounds fall as if from a great height, stop short and spread
out in arcs, forming vaults and parasols. Tiered sounds.

Beginnings of glimmers that change continually, passing from red to harsh pink, from
silver to green, turn white; suddenly boundless, opaque, yellow light, the colour of
dirty fog or the Simoon…

Street cried. Various voices. An infernal racket. When one sound stands out, the
others fade into the background accordingly…

A hysterical woman wails, makes as if to undress. A child cries with huge, terrible

Sudden stop. Everything starts again. Everyone takes his place again as if nothing
had happened.”
[Artaud, A., Collected works]
Influenced by Balinese Dancers
Influenced by Neitzsche and the God Dionysus
i.e. passion and irrationality
Appeals primarily to the senses

“A ritual generally takes the form of repeating a pattern of words and

gestures which tend to excite us above a normal state of mind.
Once this state of mind is induced we are receptive and suggestible
and ready for the climax of the rite. At the climax the essential
nature of something is changed.”
[Ann Jellicoe, quoted in Innes. P. 219]
Themes taken from Surrealism
Redefinition of reality
Insights into the subconscious
Defines madness and non-madness
Artaud expelled
“I think I have found a suitable title for my book. It will be:


For if theatre is the double of life, life is the double of true

theatre…This title will correspond to all the doubles of
theatre which I thought I had found over so many years:
metaphysics, the plague, cruelty.”

[Quoted in Sellin, 1975. p93]

The Theatre and it’s Double

Production and Metaphysics

Theatre and the Plague
The Theatre of Cruelty, First and Second
Production and Metaphysics
Used to express anything that has no rational
Use of dance as expression
Non-verbal signs for communication
More narrative than traditional mime
Gesture with depth of meaning
Dramatic spectacle
Simultaneous action
Influences of Metaphysics
Balinese Dancers
Lot and His Daughters
The Marx Brothers
Theatre and the Plague

Physical effects
Allegory and analogy
Stripped theatre of it’s constraints
Intention to challenge and disturb audience
Definition of ‘real’ play

“A real stage play upsets our tranquillity,

releases our repressed subconscious,
drives us to a kind of potential

[T&ID, 1985. p.19]

The Theatre of Cruelty
Connection between director, actor and spectator
Against conventional theatre spaces
Opposed to the representation of real life
Creation of a new language
Use of emotion
Myth, ritual and well-known tales
Collected Works
Correspondence and letters
The Alfred Jarry Theatre

Un Chien Andalou
Plays by Artaud
The Cenci
The Death of Satan

Plays influenced by Artaud

Ubu Roi by A. Jarry
Murderer, Hope of Womankind by O. Kokoschka
Royal Hunt of the Sun by P. Shaffer
Equus by P. Shaffer
Marat / Sade by P. Weiss
East by S. Berkoff
Decadence by S. Berkoff