Artaud and the Audience
“I have tried by all available means to place the audience in the midst of the action”
Artaud, by mingling spectators and actors in the same space, wanted to envelop both groups
in his ritualistic action, to recruit the audience as participants.
From Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty by Albert Bemel
THE STAGE -- THE AUDITORIUM: We abolish the stage and the auditorium . . . so direct
communication will be re-established between spectator and the spectacle, between the
actor and the spectator, from the fact that the spectator, placed in the middle of the action, is
engulfed and physically affected by it. This envelopment results, in part, from the very
configuration of the room itself.
In effect, the absence of a stage in the usual sense of the work will provide for the
deployment of the action in the four corners of the room.
For this diffusion of action over an immense space will oblige the lighting . . . to fall upon
the public as much as upon the actors . . . the characters, swarming over each other like bees,
will endure all the onslaughts of the situations . . . will (produce) the physical means of
lighting, of producing thunder or wind, whose repercussions the spectator will undergo.
From Artaud’s Manifesto for the Theatre of Cruelty
Aspects of Artaudian Performance
"puppet-like movements" "animal movements"
"movements portraying monsters"
"gestures and movements with a ritualistic quality appropriate for a theatre
whose main goal is to purge the human tendency to violence and bloodshed
through the depiction of horrifying subjects and events."
"masks, costumes, padding, stilts, fabric, puppets, objects and accessories"
"intensely emotional and exaggerated gestures and action through which the
actor's latent cruelty is explored, expressed, and purged"
"stylized, formalized, stereotypical, and illustrative dance movement which
symbolized special inner states and metaphysical ideas"
"gestures and actions that contradict a character's intentions and lines"
"elaborate solo and ensemble gesture and movement, often in a multi-levelled
space surrounding the audience."
Rose, Mark V. The Actor and his Double, Chicago: Actor Training and Research Inst.,