Antonin Artaud

Time Period of Antonin Artaud

Antonin Artaud was born 4th September 1896. He Died on the 4th March 1948 from an overdose of Drugs (Chloral Hydrate)

When Artaud was born, He had meningitis. When he was in his teenage years, he had sharp head pains which had stayed with him his whole life. In 1914 he had an attack of neurasthenia (due to his head pains) and was put into a health clinic. He was then given opium to take his head pains away, but became addicted to the drug. His addictions to this drug lead him to take other drugs and caused his death of the overdose of Chloral Hydrate.


Artaud was influenced by first seeing a Colonial Exposition of Balinese Theatre in Marseille. He was Inspired by authors and artists such as Seneca, Shakespeare, Alfred Jarry and Andre Masson. He influenced Peter Brook, Jean Genet, and Julian Beck. Since his way of Theatre did not quite catch on because most people thought it was very strange and not very thought out, Artaud still has many people who look up to him and have interoperated his work into their own making it not only better, yet easier to understand.

Technical Components

The Set is not a big necessity, but the only things on stage are usually the Actors and Key Props. Costumes were more used to set the scene; they stood out and helped display the character. Artaud said that the costumes should be "age-old costumes of ritualistic intent". Music and sound effects used to make the audience feel an emotional impact. The actors involved the audience by acting around them and constantly moving. The movements of the actors is more gesture and dance instead of words and speaking.


Acting in Artaud’s plays is a very hard thing as he created the Theatre of Cruelty and most is very hard emotions. The actors in Artaud’s plays are highly qualified as they need to be able to dance and interact with audience The characters are always moving with big gestures and the acting is more dancing than walking around. Artaud said "We shall not act a written play, but we shall make attempts at direct staging, around themes, facts, or known works."


In 1927, Artaud joined with Roger Vitrac and Robert Aron to create the Theatre Alfred Jarry, named after author of “Ubu roi”. He has directed such things as Leon Poitier’s “Verdun, visions s’histoire”, Claudel’s “Paratage de midi” and Vitrac’s “Victor ou theatre”. When Artaud was directing, it gave him an idea of the practical side of theatre, which he didn’t like. He then made his own side of Theatre, “Theatre of Cruelty” which was not as big in his time as it is today.

The Performance

The performance was much for an unusual thing to have witnessed in his time. Not many people were used to his strange thoughts and his way of acting. The performance was barer. The set was nothing and the musicians were more apart of set then their own people. The audience was supposed to feel emotionally scarred watching it with the lighting and acting of it.

By Laura Hay and Claudia Forman

Here is our YouTube Video : Introduction to Artaud