of a Modernist Mise-en-Scene
C. Christopher Soufas Jr.
ALTHOUGH there has been little suggestion that either FederAico García Lorca or Antonin Artaud may have overtly influenced the other (though Lorca may have been aware of Artaud's writing), these dramatists develop quite similar ideas of theater during the early 1930s that advance the movement toward reform begun earlier in the century. Pioneering efforts by stage innovators such as Constantin Stanislavski, Luigi Pirandello, and Bertold Brecht, among others, that bring greater professionalism to the stage primarily by means of their advocacy of an expanded directorial function (that barely existed at the beginning of the twentieth century), are seconded more than a decade later by Artaud and Lorca with an intensified emphasis on performance/audience dynamics. Artaud's notion of a “theater of cruelty,” which demands maximum audience involvement in the performance, finds a strong resonance in Lorca's dramatic texts and other writings. Although his exploration of stage/audience relationships is central in experimental plays like El público and Comedia sin título, Lorca also integrates these insights into his commercial theater. In spite of the fact that Artaud remains influential as a primary source even today, his own attempts at stage direction met with failure. Lorca, however, was able to achieve considerable stage authority during his lifetime by instituting strategies that to a considerable degree parallel and complement Artaudian concepts. Thus, it will be useful to examine Lorca beside Artaud in order to underscore his significant theoretical and practical contribution to modernist theater reform in Europe.
Although there is a tendency to look upon early reform efforts as largely homogeneous and complementary, there are significant differences among prominent earlier innovators and the slightly