Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) was a French dramatist, poet, actor and theoretician who rejected Western theatre’s reliance on the spoken word, instead advocating an experimental theatre influenced by the East where ritualistic movement, stylised gestures and signals became paramount. Artaud’s physical theatre of cruelty was performed in non-traditional spaces with a weakened audience positioned at its centre. The spectator was assaulted with a total theatre experience involving shocking images, piercing sound and bright white lighting. Artaud was briefly a member of the surrealist movement. – Justin Cash
Dozens of Theatre of Cruelty conventions and techniques from The Drama Teacher website: theory, text, movement and gesture, space and actor-audience relationship, stagecraft, acting and characterisation.
An excellent guide for students to create solo and devised ensemble pieces using Artaud’s techniques.
What is the Theatre of Cruelty?
Exploration of Artaud’s theories from the British Library including a look at one of his ‘unstageable’ plays, Jet of Blood, and the famous production of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade, performed as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 1964 theatre of cruelty season and directed by Peter Brook.
Excellent series of activities for students, prepared for the UK curriculum.
Donald Gardner Comprehensive archived essay The Reinvention of the Human Face, discusses Artaud and his work.
Excellent interview with academic and Artaud author Dr. Ros Murray about Artaud and his lifetime of work in nine parts, with connections to IB, GCSE, AS and A level specifications.
Theatre of Cruelty Characteristics
Twelve handy flip cards for students on key aspects of Artaud’s theatre from The Drama Teacher website: ritual, space, total theatre, surreal, ensemble, spectators, experimental, movement, the double, communication, text, and emotions.
Suitable PowerPoint for senior students exploring the various phases in Artaud’s life and his theatre of cruelty.
Theatre of Cruelty Examples
Unit of work on Araud’s theatre for students with exercises and activities leading to a performance.
Biography of Antonin Artaud from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Theatre of Cruelty Artaud
Education pack for teachers and students exploring the link between Peter Shaeffer’s Equus and Artaud’s theatre (could be adapted).
Archived article discussing Artaud’s work and his influence on other practitioners such as Jerzy Grotowski and director Peter Brook.
Theatre of Cruelty Definition
Brief Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on Artaud’s form of theatre including its connections to symbolism and surrealism.
Theatre of Cruelty Performances
Biography and works of Antonin Artaud from Wikipedia.
Wikipedia entry on the style’s history, theory and legacy for 20th-century theatre.
Practical Theatre of Cruelty exercises for secondary school drama students.
Brief interview transcript of two academics discussing Artaud’s technique of fusing sound, movement and text into one.
Series of practical drama lessons for students on physical theatre exploring the techniques of Antonin Artaud and Steven Berkoff.
A useful list of acting techniques in the style of Artaud’s theatre.
Biography of Antonin Artaud and his work from Encyclopedia.com.