11
“The Virtual Reality of Theater”:
Antonin Artaud

INANAGE when the relation of violence to the media has become a widespread concern, the words with which Antonin Artaud introduced his notion of a “theater of cruelty” in the fateful year 1933 acquire a particular resonance:

The question is to know what we want. If we are prepared
for war, plagues, famine, and massacres, we don’t even need to
say so, all we have to do is carry on. Carry on behaving like
snobs, rushing en masse to hear this or that singer, to see this or
that admirable show … this or that exhibition in which impres-
sive forms burst forth here and there, but at random and without
any true conscience of the forces they could stir up….

I am not one of those who believe that civilization has to
change in order for theater to change; but I do believe that
theater, utilized in the highest and most difficult sense possible,
has the power to influence the aspect and formation of
things….

That is why I am proposing a theater of cruelty…. Not the
cruelty we can exercise upon each other by hacking at each
other’s bodies, carving up our personal anatomies, or, like Assyr-
ian emperors, sending parcels of human ears, noses, or neatly
severed nostrils through the mail; but the much more terrible
and necessary cruelty which things can exercise against us. We
are not free. And the sky can still fall on our heads. And theater
has been created to teach us that, first of all.1

Artaud’s words seem both uncannily appropriate and utterly outmoded. Utterly outmoded in the political and cultural importance he attaches to theater. Uncannily appropriate in his vision of “war, plagues, famine, and massacres” that are the result, not of any special

-277-

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
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Theatricality as Medium
Table of contents

Table of contents

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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 408

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.