The Madman Himself – Antonin Artaud 101

ImagePoet, playwright, actor, practitioner, theorist, director – do you detect a hint of awe? Rarely has a single figure, so irrelevant during his time, so completely influenced modern theatre as we know it. Theatre critic Susan Sontag proclaimed that Artaud “has had an impact so profound that the course of all recent serious theatre can be said to divide into two periods—before Artaud and after Artaud.” Whilst this is a far too dogmatic approach for my liking, after Artaud died (with a shoe in his hand!!) his writings have influenced the likes of Peter Brook and inspired world-renowned theatre company, Complicite.

Rejecting the highly traditional, naturalistic and bourgeoisie theatre in early twentieth century Paris, he developed a radical philosophy culminating in a series of essays entitled ‘The Theatre of Cruelty’. Artaud believed that theatre’s place in society was to challenge, to affect and to free an audience; none of which classical theatre achieved. Remarkably similar to German psychologist Sigmund Freud, he sought to free the repressed subconscious, taking heavy inspiration from dreams to wake an audience “hearts and minds”.

He wanted to shock an audience, stripping the human psyche to its most primal, most human characteristics and as such placed great focus on ritual, calling for actors “burning at the stake, laughing at the flames”. For Artaud, classical theatre had placed too much focus on the spoken word and scripted language.

In response, he crafted a new language; a language of screams and cries, of gesture and movement a language of primal guttural sounds that would both terrify and delight, encompassing the audience in new, total theatre. The audience would become a ‘participant’ rather than an external, comfortable ‘spectator’. Furthermore, Artaud’s revolutionary use of space advocated the removal of the traditional (in it’s most derogatory sense) end on stage and auditorium with a bare, empty space and with an audience “physically engulfed” by performers and emotion, thrown in the “middle of a vortex”.

I often cite Antonin Artaud as my greatest inspiration. Many people ask me why? He’s a madman! Well, I believe that…

In every madman there is a misunderstood genius, a fragmented insight so terrifying for society in its truth that to defame the man from whose head this insight shines is the only solution. In this solution there is only lies.

Over and out,

The Madman

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Musings of a Madman

Hmmm, I’m writing a blog???!? 

Ok then, right. Yup. Time to write.  Hmmmmm….

So I suppose I should tell you a bit about myself – I guess that’s what most bloggers do. So I’m…….nah. What would be the fun in that? I’m not going to give things away that easily! Ask me if you really want to know. Instead I’m going to tell you why everyone thinks I’m mad…

It could be because I have a strange obsession with falling scorpions, or actors screaming half way through a performance, or just that I’m a monster raving loony. Seriously though, it’s just because I FREAKING LOVE ANTONIN ARTAUD.

Yup, I said it, I LOVE ARTAUD. But aside from that godly genius I’m also a frequent denizen of the emerging Islington Fringe Theatre scene (Red Lion Pub anyone?) and of course, London’s West End.

But come now, that’s enough from me. Keep your eyes peeled for my latest musings on a mad man by a mad man, a random assortment of reviews, and anything else that catches my fancy.

Over and out,

The Madman