The Theatre of Cruelty is a form of theatre developed by avant-garde playwright, actor, essayist, and theorist, Antonin Artaud, in The Theatre and its Double. Originally a member of the surrealist movement, Artaud eventually began to develop his own theatrical theories. The Theatre of Cruelty can be seen as break with traditional Western theatre, and a means by which artists assault the senses of the audience, and allow them to feel the unexpressed emotions of the subconscious. While Artaud was only able to produce one play in his lifetime that reflected the tenets of the Theatre of Cruelty, the works of many theatre artists reflect his theories. These artists include Jean Genet, Jerzy Grotowski, and Peter Brook.

Albany State University Comprehensive essay examining the theatre of Artaud.

Australian Catholic University Article that discusses the Theatre of Cruelty’s influence of Grotowski and Brook.

Colin Russell (Archived) Comprehensive explanation of Artaud’s theories and his Theatre of Cruelty techniques.

Donald Gardner Comprehensive essay The Reinvention of the Human Face, discussing Artaud and his work.

Farrago Brief, but useful description of the purpose of Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty.

Fordham University The surrealist manifesto declaration, 1925.

Peak Performance for Easy-to-digest article on Theatre of Cruelty techniques for students of theatre.

Squidoo Interesting set of articles on the Theatre of Cruelty and its conventions. Useful for students.

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