Avant Garde Theatre, 1892-1992

By Christopher Innes | Go to book overview

5

ANTONIN ARTAUD AND THE THEATRE OF CRUELTY

THEORY AND PRACTICE

When critics discuss the use of ritual in contemporary drama or avant garde directors describe their attempts to rediscover the primitive ritual function of theatre, Artaud’s name is usually the first to be mentioned. Although he can hardly be said to have initiated the trend, with Artaud the focus on dreams and the primitive levels of the psyche becomes extended to include savage roots and primitive culture. Expressionist painters like Nolde had already turned to African sculpture for inspiration. However, Artaud was the first to search for theatrical forms that would not only be non-European, but also specifically ‘uncivilized’ (as distinct from Strindberg’s thematic borrowing from Indian religion, or Yeats’ imitation of the Japanese Nōh as a ‘noble’ and highly refined art). And what impressed him about the Balinese dance-drama was ‘the instinctive survival of magic’ in what he mistakenly believed were involuntary and visionary gestures. In his view these caused ‘the movement of religious terror which seized the crowds at the Paris Colonial Exhibition’. This was the effect he aimed at; and he believed that both his Théâtre Alfred Jarry and the Balinese theatre ‘fed off the true magical sources of the same primitive unconscious’. 1

In an ‘Open letter to the schools of Buddha’ Artaud rejects logic and reason as ‘the chains that bind us in a petrifying imbecility of the mind’. What he proposes as positive values in their place are irrational spontaneity and delirium, which would release repressed tendencies in an emotional purgation analogous to the classical/tragic effect of catharsis. Significantly, the model outlined in his theories follows the two syllogistic modes of reasoning that dominate mythological systems. Frazer defined these as the ‘laws’ of ‘sympathetic’ magic (like causes like), and ‘holophrastic’ magic (the part stands for the whole). ‘Images of energy in the unconscious and gratuitous crime on the surface’ of a stage presentation are assumed to evoke a mirror state in the spectator’s mind, if these ‘can be projected with the necessary violence’. 2 And this delirium will be contagious, exorcizing repressive behaviour patterns in society as a whole by its presence in the

-59-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Avant Garde Theatre, 1892-1992
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Politics of Primitivism 6
  • 3 - Dreams, Archetypes and the Irrational 19
  • 4 - Therapy and Subliminal Theatre 36
  • 5 - Antonin Artaud and the Theatre of Cruelty 59
  • 6 - Ritual and Acts of Communion 95
  • 7 - Black Masses and Ceremonies of Negation 108
  • 8 - Myth and Theatre Laboratories 125
  • 9 - Secular Religions and Physical Spirituality 149
  • 10 - Anthropology, Environmental Theatre and Sexual Revolution 167
  • 11 - Interculturalism and Expropriating the Classics 193
  • 12 - From the Margins to Mainstream 214
  • Notes 234
  • Select Bibliography 250
  • Index 255
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 262

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.