As Hill-Gibbins told Exeunt Magazine, people "pay money to look at mad people because they find them funny, or because they find something profound or intriguing about watching mad people". His blunt, yet uncannily accurate, reasoning is a stark contrast to his theatrical prowess.
So there is another paradox: he needed it to fail in order for it to succeed; to show that language and representation is inherently flawed. The male voice in the background of the clip sings a religious chant. The execution serves as a punishment [lxxx] rather than a provocation; the audience, whether enemy or potential ally, is in shock, and profoundly affected by what it has witnessed. RM: Yes and what they can do to a text. He says that you can control your thoughts and you can also control your breathing.
For Hill-Gibbins, the asylum's inhabitant is presented as a wheelchair-bound, dribbling, sufferer of physical and mental disabilities. This is such a far flung image from the original text by Middleton and Rowley, that, combined with the ethereally clinical hospital-green lighting of the mental asylum, the patient becomes a representation of every audience member's internal, yet unspoken, captivation and morbid fascination with the mentally and physically ill. Artaud's belief that the realities within every person can confront them in a physical form allows the seventeenth-century opus to become more contemporarily and culturally relevant.
It does not stop there. In keeping with Artaud's fascination with human nature, another element of cruelty is sex and sexuality.
The Changeling, as with much of Artaud's work, is about "the mess of being a human being, the mess of the body. Maybe that's what all really good plays are about; no matter how much you try to control your body and you have all these ideas about how the world should be and how you should be, the problem of being a human being is that you can't live outside your body. Its needs, for power or sex or food, will always be there".
This metaphorical mess of internal emotions and ideas is translated into a very physical performance, where food and drink become a substitute for bodily fluids and bodily desires. The creation of the internal mess of adultery on stage, is performed through the mutual smearing and massaging of red, oozing liquid upon each other and the blanched marriage bed.
The highly sexualised rubbing, slavering and massaging is not only a highly disturbing image, but also a physical representation of the complex nature of adultery itself. It maintains Artaud's belief that staging the internal externally shatters the false reality of the stage.
The Theatre of Cruelty attempts to penetrate far deeper than naturalistic theatre. The exposure of such physical translations of raw emotion leaves more naturalistic pieces of theatre appearing to be emotionally stunted and filled with false pretences. The most repulsive aspects of human nature are translated into captivating art, where, by some strange paradox, the only thing that would seem out of place is reality. You Might Also Like On the Pulse of London.
The Theatre of Cruelty is a form of theatre generally. The Theatre of Cruelty, developed by Antonin Artaud, aimed to shock audiences through gesture, image, sound and lighting. Natasha Tripney.
He admired Eastern theatre because of the codified, highly ritualized physicality of Balinese dance performance, and advocated what he called a "Theatre of Cruelty". By cruelty, he meant not exclusively sadism or causing pain, but just as often a violent, physical determination to shatter the false reality. 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 expression is physical expression in space.
It made Artaud's eyes shrink into darkness, as they are deep-set. This brought into relief the intensity of his gestures. He looked tormented. His hair, rather long, fell at times over his forehead. He has the actor's nimbleness and quickness of gestures.
His face is lean, as if ravaged by fevers. His eyes do not seem to see the people. They are the eyes of a visionary. His hands are long, long-fingered. Beside him Allendy looks earthy, heavy, gray. He sits at the desk, massive, brooding. Artaud steps out on the platform, and begins to talk about " The Theatre and the Plague. It seems to me that all he is asking for is intensity, a more heightened form of feeling and living.
Is he trying to remind us that it was during the Plague that so many marvelous works of art and theater came to be, because, whipped by the fear of death, man seeks immortality, or to escape, or to surpass himself? But then, imperceptibly almost, he let go of the thread we were following and began to act out dying by plague.
No one quite knew when it began. To illustrate his conference, he was acting out an agony.
But no word could describe what Artaud acted out on the platform of the Sorbonne. He forgot about his conference, the theatre, his ideas, Dr. Allendy sitting there, the public, the young students, his wife, professors, and directors. His face was contorted with anguish, one could see the perspiration dampening his hair. His eyes dilated, his muscles became cramped, his fingers struggled to retain their flexibility. He made one feel the parched and burning throat, the pains, the fever, the fire in the guts.
He was in agony. He was screaming.