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Explain what is meant by the term "theatre of cruelty" and discuss element of this
form of theatre as he imagine. You should refer to Artaud's writings and projects in
Artaud believed that there were five stages to what he called the theatre of cruelty. He
wanted it to be in these five stages in order to create the overall effect that he wanted.
The first of these fives stages was that he was against conventional theatre spaces. He did not
like the idea that the audience would sit and watch a stage in the conventional way. He wanted
the audience to be integrated into the performance in a kind of promenade performance. he did
this in many of the Balinese type theatres he put on due to the fact he liked the way in which
performances were in undecorated courtyards with the audience milling among the performers.
The theatre was created and not through conformist aspects.
The second stage was he was opposed to representing `real life' on stage. He
emphasised the ritual nature of performance in the way in which the audience is as much part of
this ritual as the performers.
The third stage was he wanted everything Theatrical will be used to create a new
language of theatre. By this he meant that he did not want dialogue on the stage he wanted
sounds that maybe where words but inflexion was used that the words could not be heard as
there original meanings Shouts, Language gabbled, Groans, Apparitions, Surprise, Dramatic
moments of all kinds were used. One good example of how he did this is in one of his plays "
the spurt of blood" in flexion is used on the first few lines when I love you is constantly repeated.
Also in the stage directions this is said to happen.
". A hurricane separates them. At the same time, two Stars are seen colliding and from them fall
a series of legs of living flesh with feet, hands, scalps, masks, colonnades, porticos, temples,
alembics, falling more and more slowly, as if falling in a vacuum:..."
This would be created by flashing lights that confused the audience. Also the fact is totally out
of blue with causes dramatic effect which is what Artaud wanted. Later on in this piece. The
priest suddenly changes his accent which again is form of changing the different voice and
In the piece The Conquest of Mexico he used such aspects as recorded sound, non speaking
parts of the show, images, moves, dances, rituals, music, melodies cut short, sudden turns of
dialogue, words are spoken like a musical score.
The actor must use his emotions in the same way a boxer uses his muscles was the
fourth thing Artaud wanted. He had high demands and expectations for his actors and some of
the acts he made his actors do where all about physical strength. For example in his
compositions of "The Cenci" he made actors use a lot of physical interactions, including high
demands of dance in order to create and overall meaning. He said that breathing is very
important and is needed for external expression. Actors must be experimental as every emotion
has an organic basis and an actor charges his emotional voltage by developing his emotions
within him. He demanded his actors to work close as a company and be philosophically and
emotionally committed to the project.
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The fifth and final stage was the subject matter will focus on myths and wellknown
tales. He liked the themes behind certain fables and myths but yet didn't want them to be
performed in that style so he took the meanings and twisted them so that they could b
associated with his plays.…read more