Antonin Artaud at Nick Dunning.comAntonin Artaud


Dark, disturbing and powerful, Artaud's acting techniques are not for the faint hearted. 

First developed back in the 1920s by Antonin Artaud a French playwright, actor and theatre director, Artaud believed that performance should shock and surprise the audience and so enable them to face their own fears. 

He called his techniques the "Theatre of Cruelty" and believed that action and surprise in a theatre performance or film was the most important aspect of drama and more important than plot or the spoken word. Imagine sitting in a theatre waiting for that to begin?

Antonin Artaud was a contemporary of Berthold Brecht, and like Brecht, he believed that theatre was essentially bourgeois; despite that, the two men were poles apart. Artaud’s aim was that the performance should make the audience look deep into their own fears, where as Brecht acting techniques are all about the message, which requires the audience to look outside themselves at society, to examine the political state of affairs in a nation.

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Antonin-Artaud-Techniques can be shocking and powerful...

Artaud-acting-techniques can be shocking and powerful. The aim is to cause heightened emotions in the audience by whatever means possible, especially shock. The characters often express themselves in a way to deliberately confuse the audience and an Artaud performance often does not have a storyline but various themes running through at the same time. 

The aim of an Artaud performance is to cause a real experience of discomfort and confusion in the audience that causes them to think and become involved as participants, not onlookers.

Artaud-acting-techniques often require the use of noises, grunts, screams – the dialogue is often minimal and requires that the actor looks inside to his or her own primal emotions in order to create the role. It is often an exhausting rehearsal process :-)

The Theatre of Cruelty has had a profound effect upon modern theatre and film and although Artaud is often seen as highbrow and “art house,” but his influence can be seen in many modern productions. 

Artaud was a wild character. He was heavily influenced by surrealism and had a life long addiction to opiates, including heroin. He had repeated spells inside mental institutions and his personal life makes for interesting reading. He visited Ireland in 1937 because he believed he had a wooden walking stick that once belonged to St Patrick and ended up being deported back to France in a straitjacket later the same year. So take care before you buy a walking stick in Ireland...

Despite his mental illnesses. Artaud-acting-techniques, explained in this book are acclaimed today as being extremely influential on modern acting styles and will help you in your own performance. 

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