Deeply affected by the events of World War I , the artists of the movement felt increasing skepticism of the existing societal structures that had allowed for global warfare. In his manifesto on surrealism, Breton writes, "pure psychic automatism, by which is intended to express, verbally, in writing, or by other means, the real process of thought. The theatre lasted only two years. The performance conventions of Balinese dance were different than any Artaud had previously experienced, and he was struck by the intense physicality of the dancers.
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Deeply affected by the events of World War I , the artists of the movement felt increasing skepticism of the existing societal structures that had allowed for global warfare. In his manifesto on surrealism, Breton writes, "pure psychic automatism, by which is intended to express, verbally, in writing, or by other means, the real process of thought.
The theatre lasted only two years. The performance conventions of Balinese dance were different than any Artaud had previously experienced, and he was struck by the intense physicality of the dancers. Nerves and heart," and through which we experience, "immediate violent action," that "inspires us with the fiery magnetism of its images and acts upon us like a spiritual therapeutics whose touch can never be forgotten.
According to scholar Nathan Gorelick, Cruelty is, more profoundly, the unrelenting agitation of a life that has become unnecessary, lazy, or removed from a compelling force. He believed that text had been a tyrant over meaning, and advocated, instead, for a theatre made up of a unique language, halfway between thought and gesture. Artaud described the spiritual in physical terms, and believed that all theatre is physical expression in space. 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. Eric Bentley , Penguin, , p. Lee Jamieson has identified four ways in which Artaud used the term cruelty. First, it is employed metaphorically to describe the essence of human existence.
Although Artaud did not formally cite Nietzsche, [their writing] contains a familiar persuasive authority, a similar exuberant phraseology, and motifs in extremis Although Artaud wanted to "reject form and incite chaos" Jamieson, p. The Theatre of Cruelty aimed to hurl the spectator into the centre of the action, forcing them to engage with the performance on an instinctive level.
For Artaud, this was a cruel, yet necessary act upon the spectator, designed to shock them out of their complacency: Artaud sought to remove aesthetic distance , bringing the audience into direct contact with the dangers of life.
By turning theatre into a place where the spectator is exposed rather than protected, Artaud was committing an act of cruelty upon them. He also placed a great emphasis on sound rather than words or dialogue, by incorporating loud cries, screams, eerie sounds, or noises causing the audience to become uncomfortable.
Words were an insufficient medium of expression. Finally, Artaud used the term to describe his philosophical views. For Artaud, "the theatre has been created to drain abscesses collectively.
Accordingly, he felt that words should be stripped of meaning and chosen for their phonic elements. Vork claims, "Artaud seems to be suggesting that his play reveals emotions and experiences that we all attempt to proscribe and are unwilling to acknowledge, but which nevertheless occur. He envisioned the performance space as an empty room with the audience seated in the center and the actors performing all around them.
Artaud, however, believed that, while he was forced to limit the scope of his vision due to financial constraints, Les Cenci succeeded in exemplifying the tenets of the Theatre of Cruelty. His plays featured ritualized murder and systemic oppression in order to show the negative consequences and suffering caused by political subjugation.
He tore literature away from the police, theater away from medicine. Under the sun of torture, which shines equally on all the continents of this planet, his texts blossom. Read on the ruins of Europe, they will be classics. These professors: "…suggest that theater, more generally, provides structure for cruel performance, and that violent land conflict, together with forest destruction, constitutes a predictable tragedy of theatrical events.
In other words, violent land conflict in Amazonia, with all its terrible implication for people and environment, can be grasped as a theatrical structure with philosophic and material consequences for mind and body.
Theatre of Cruelty
But these must still be there and that concerns us. The Show: Every show will contain physical, objective elements perceptible to all. Shouts, groans, apparitions, surprise, dramatic moments of all kinds, the magic beauty of the costumes modeled on certain ritualistic patterns, brilliant lighting, vocal, incantational beauty, attractive harmonies, rare musical notes, object colors, the physical rhythm of the moves familiar to all, the tangible appearance of new, surprising objects, masks, puppets many feet high, abrupt lighting changes, the physical action of lighting stimulating heat and cold, and so on. Staging: This archetypal theatre language will be formed around staging not simply viewed as one degree of refraction of the script on stage, but as the starting point for theatrical creation. The old duality between author and producer will disappear, to be replaced by a kind of single Creator using and handling this language, responsible both for the play and the action. Stage Language: We do not intend to do away with dialogue, but to give words something of the significance they have in dreams.
Theatre of Cruelty Conventions
Artaud was diagnosed with meningitis at age five, a disease which had no cure at the time. He was discharged due to addiction to laudanum and mental instability. Intonation is found within oneself and pushed out with the burning power of feeling, not achieved through imitation". He wrote a number of film scenarios, and ten are listed in his Complete Works. Directed by Germaine Dulac , it is often considered the first surrealist film. Although he did not fully understand the intentions and ideas behind traditional Balinese performance, it influenced many of his ideas for theatre.
A unique theatrical language can be defined as its possibilities for dynamic and spatial expression, rather than using dialogue as it does in theatres. Such theatre evokes a variety of art music, dance, pantomime, or mimicry , but only if they can contribute and lie great stress to the central expression without advantage for any particular art. This kind of theatrical language creates witch-crafts, encourages voice, uses vibrations and frees meaning from the words. Finally, Artaud interrupts intellectual subjection of the language. In order to achieve this by spectators, Theatre of Cruelty evokes themes such as dreams, crimes, erotic obsessions, savagery, ghosts, cannibalism After a brief theory of the theatre as it should be, I resume some of Artaud detailed analysis of the areas that set up a show in Theatre of Cruelty.