This play by Tim Dalgleish tells Artaud’s story from his early years of aspiration, when he wished to part of the establishment, through to his final years as a suffering, iconoclastic outsider. It is a powerful rendition of one of theatre’s greatest and most influential practitioners. (Contains strong language).
Antonin Artaud was a film star, poet, playwright, director and theorist writing some of the most influential manifestoes on the art of theatre ever written. In his early years he starred in films by Abel Gance and Theodor Dreyer two of early cinema’s greatest directors. His screenplay for The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928) was a strong influence on Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel. For several years he ran the Alfred Jarry Theatre in Paris with Roger Vitrac, producing and directing original plays by writers such as Paul Claudel and August Strindberg. His life was wracked with much personal suffering and mental anguish. He is best remembered for his work The Theatre and Its Double (1938) which outlines his theory for his so called Theatre of Cruelty.
Just after the Second World War in 1946 Antonin Artaud was finally released from eight years of confinement in various asylums. The intellectual and artistic community of Paris, such figures as Picasso, Duchamp, Sartre and Gide had helped raised funds to aid his release. Not long before a new collection of his essays and letters about Mexico Au pays des Tarahumaras had been published. A benefit performance and gala was held for him at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt. He himself even performed solo at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier (though physically a wreck, nearly toothless and ravaged by years of drug use). This renaissance of his fortunes was welcome but short lived, he died just outside Paris at Ivry in March 1948.