Antonin Artaud

(redirected from Antonin Marie Joseph Artaud)
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Artaud, Antonin

(äNtônăN` ärtō`), 1896–1948, French poet, actor, and director. During the 1920s and 30s he was associated with various experimental theater groups in Paris, and he cofounded the Théâtre Alfred Jarry. Artaud's theories of drama, particularly his concept of the "theater of cruelty," greatly influenced 20th-century theater. He related theater to the plague because both destroy the veneer of civilization, revealing the ugly realities beneath and returning humanity to a primitive state, in which it lacks morality and reason. The aim of the "theater of cruelty" was to disturb the audience and reveal the forces of nature. To achieve this end he emphasized the nonverbal aspects of theater such as color and movement and stressed the importance of violence as a theatrical device. Artaud's most important work is Le Théâtre et son double (1938, tr. 1958). His influence can be seen in the works of Jean GenetGenet, Jean
, 1910–86, French dramatist. Deserted by his parents as an infant, Genet spent much of his early life in reformatories and prisons. Between 1940 and 1948 he wrote several autobiographical prose narratives dealing with homosexuality and crime, including
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, Fernando ArrabalArrabal, Fernando
, 1932–, French playwright, b. Melilla, Morocco. He studied law in Madrid before moving to Paris in 1954. His plays, which reflect his abhorrence of political repression, bourgeois complacency, and war, are often abstract and savagely ironic, employing
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, Peter WeissWeiss, Peter
, 1916–82, German-Swedish dramatist, novelist, film director, and painter. Weiss's early novels Abschied von den Eltern (1961; tr. Leavetaking, 1962) and Fluchtpunkt (1962; tr.
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, Peter BrookBrook, Peter,
1925–, English theatrical director, b. London, grad. Oxford (1943). An innovative, unconventional, and controversial figure, Brook mounts energetic productions in which the entire stage is utilized and realistic sets are banished in favor of bold, abstract,
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, and Julian BeckBeck, Julian,
1925–85, American theatrical director, actor, and producer, b. New York City. In 1948 he married

Judith Malina, 1926–2015, also an American theatrical director, actor, and producer, b. Germany.
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 and Judith Malina. Artaud was afflicted with mental illness from his childhood, and in 1936 he was declared insane; he spent much of the rest of his life in mental institutions.


See his Selected Writings ed. by S. Sontag (1971); B. L. Knapp, Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision (1980); J. Derrida and P. Thevenin, Antoine Artaud: Drawings and Portraits (1990).

Antonin Artaud
Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud
BirthplaceMarseille, France
Theatre director, poet, actor, playwright
Known for Theatre of Cruelty