ANTONIN ARTAUD, French playwright, actor/director, poet died (b. 1896); Artaud believed that the theater should affect the audience as much as possible, therefore he used a mixture of strange and disturbing forms of lighting, sound and performance.
In his book The Theatre and Its Double, which contained the first and second manifesto for a “Theatre of Cruelty,” Artaud expressed his admiration for Eastern forms of theatre, particularly the Balinese. He admired Eastern theatre because of the codified, highly ritualized and precise physicality of Balinese dance performance, and advocated what he called a “Theatre of Cruelty”. At one point, he stated that by cruelty, he meant not exclusively sadism or causing pain, but just as often a violent, physical determination to shatter the false reality. He believed that text had been a tyrant over meaning, and advocated, instead, for a theatre made up of a unique language, halfway between thought and gesture. Artaud described the spiritual in physical terms, and believed that all theatre is physical expression in space.
Theatrical practitioner Peter Brook took inspiration from Artaud’s “Theatre of Cruelty” in a series of workshops that lead up to his well-known production of Marat/Sade. The Living Theatre was also heavily influenced by him, as was much English-language experimental theater and performance art; Karen Finley, Spalding Gray, Liz LeCompte, Richard Foreman, Charles Marowitz, Sam Shepard, Joseph Chaiken, and more all named Artaud as one of their influences.