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Antonin Artaud: Post-modernism In A Theatre Of Cruelty

Antonin Artaud, the European avant-garde artist, takes absurdism to another level with his works of art. Jet of Blood aka Spurt of Blood, is a short play that’s sure to shock you due to its Theatre Of Cruelty themes.

The highlight of this controlled madness is Kecak, aka Ramayana Monkey Chant, “performed by a circle of at least 150 performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting cak and moving their hands and arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana.” Kecak has roots in sanghyang.

Recognized as one of the major figures of the avant-garde theatre, Antonin Artaud is now crucial to the contribution of post-modernism.

His best-known work, The Theatre and Its Double, was published in 1938. A collection of manifestos originally published in 1938, The Theater and Its Double is the fullest statement of the ideas of Antonin Artaud.

The Theatre of Cruelty has been created in order to restore to the theatre a passionate and convulsive conception of life, and it is in this sense of violent rigour and extreme condensation of scenic elements that the cruelty on which it is based must be understood. This cruelty, which will be bloody when necessary but not systematically so, can thus be identified with a kind of severe moral purity which is not afraid to pay life the price it must be paid.

– Antonin Artaud, The Theatre of Cruelty, in The Theory of the Modern Stage (ed. Eric Bentley), Penguin, 1968, p.66

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