psychology

Antonin Artaud and Overcoming “Intellectual Stupor”

2 posts in one night! Here we go..

I just finished a chapter from The Twentieth Century Performance Reader by Antonin Artaud. It is becoming apparent to me that a big handful of theatre artists reject psychological theatre and seek a higher, truer form of expression for the stage. Artaud expresses that we are stuck in an “intellectual stupor” in theatre and wanted theatre “through its immediacy, to embrace the non-verbal elements of consciousness, and to arouse powerful therapeutic emotions in the audience” (p 28). He sought revolution and discomfort in his audiences. He wishes to access the psyche in a larger-than-life and dream-like way and to affect the masses. I love and admire this. Artaud felt this in the first half of the twentieth century, I still feel it today. It also makes me think of the Barba reading. Barba wrote, “After working together many hours a day for many years, it is not my words but perhaps only my presence that can say anything” (p 42).

This is actually something I intuitively sought during a solo performance class I took my junior year of college. My goal of creating that ten-minute piece was to communicate through imagery rather than through explanation. I achieved this by zipping myself up in a suitcase, tying knots around my abdomen, and lighting candles around the stage. Each of these actions was my way of externalizing my emotional, psychological, inward experiences and stories. I felt talking about my story was not enough, it wouldn’t capture it quite right or nearly fully. So, I sought “fiery, magnetic imagery” and “unforgettable soul therapy” as an alternative and actually more effective mode of expression (p 25). Again, I am excited to find my intuitive desires in the works of other artists. These thoughts and ambitions exist in many minds! What a joy to find like-minded people.

Artaud says, “Our sensibility has reached the point where we surely need theatre that wakes us up heart and nerves” (p 25). I definitely agree and need to remember this for my project. I do not want to stand on stage and talk about my experience. Why would anyone care? I know I have a lot to say, but I am still sort of figuring out exactly what those things are and how I want to share them. I am really drawn to the idea of people/land relationship, ancestors, and how knowledge lives in places as well as people. Perhaps I could use the mode of Aboriginal story telling in order to tell my story.

Now, to keep reading and dreaming… Please feel free to email me if you have any input or response!

Ariana