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TaPS MASTER CLASS RESOURCE PACK: ‘Artaud applied is Artaud denied’
By Jo Scott
October 2013, London TaPS
‘Artaud Applied is Artaud Denied’: Jo Scott Masterclass Summary and Outline Summary This workshop provides a practical route into the theories associated with the Theatre Of Cruelty, exploring the extent to which Artaud's ideas can be applied to space, movement, audience, sound and image and culminating in the creation of an Artaudian theatrical experience. Outline Initial discussion and introductions Outline of Artaud’s ideas in relation to theatre The performer – body and movement plus warm up exercises • Body as a sign/hieroglyph and not as a psychologised character • The body and movement as tools to directly communicate feelings/thoughts/ideas • Breathing exercises: Timed breathing, circular nose breathing, • Stretches: Full body stretches + Push and Pull, thigh and knee boxing • Walking: Balancing the space/magnet, sharp edges, fluid lines, only at right angles, knees bent, hands on hips, holding toes • Minimum surface contact and rolling point of contact • Grotowski exercises: crying foot/grieving hand/laugh with your elbow/kiss with your whole body Emotional states • Don’t mime/translate the word, but allow your body to be a symbol and embody that state – you are not isolated, you are isolation itself: • Isolation, disease, cruelty, assimilation, revolt, disgust, renewal, humiliation, void, tension • Individual – with eyes closed, transitioning from one to another • If there is time, choose two and practice ‘exchanging’ your state Voice and sound • Breaking old habits and finding new types of sound (Grotowski warm ups) • Vocal warm up – passing sound around the circle • Lie on back – circular breathing, resonators – opening jaw, relaxing mouth and creating sound – making it continuous • Use your voice to: make a hole in the wall, overturn a chair, put out a candle, caress someone, wrap up an object, use it as an axe and a hammer, cut up a piece of paper • Create: dripping water, humming of a motor, crackle of flames • Duologue – not focusing on sense at all, but creating interesting sound patterns – repetition, elongation, shortening of sounds, gaps and silence, as well as noise, different qualities of sound • Exercises combing amplified sound and vocal effects Plague stimulus • Read together and in twos and threes, pick an image to explore thinking about how you could use your body as a hieroglyph, sound and voice as tools to communicate viscerally not literally the image you have been given Devising work Applying ideas about space, audience and the projected image • Artaud’s theories related to space, audience and ‘total theatre’ • Redefinition of space – audience integrated with performers • Choice and application of projected images to the performance space Performance • Set up of rolling theatre piece with overlaps and freestyle section at the end Plenary • Discussion about the work – reference to resource pack and Artaud’s ongoing influence Artaud – Use of Sound and Text taken from Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty by Albert Bemel Artaud encouraged actors to test out new voices, expressions, movements and to free themselves from old habits and routines “at the first rehearsal, Artaud rolled around on the stage, assumed a falsetto voice, contorted himself, howled and fought logic, order and the “well-­‐made” approach. He forbade anyone to pay too close attention to the ‘story’ at the expense of its spiritual significance. He sought desperately to translate the ‘truth’ of the text, and not the words.” Raymond Rouleau – actor in Artaud’s production of A Dream Play He wanted the spoken word to acquire a varied theatricality, instead of becoming a recital of information and feelings Text must be intoned, shouted, whispered, wheezed, howled and groaned, sometimes in contradiction to the denotative meanings of the words and sentences Words are suggestive sounds and should be delivered for the sake of their sonority, explosiveness, sensuous and associative properties The voice is an instrument, to produce a flow of literally living sound that was not simply meaningful speech Artaud was the first director to use four distributed loudspeakers in his production of The Cenci to create stereophonic sound. In this production, he combined sound effects of recorded footsteps and rhythmic stamping, stormy winds and waves, the ticking of a metronome, the clacking together of wooden blocks, notes from an organ, the recorded chimes of Amiens Cathedral and the recorded humming-­‐whirring of a factory, in addition to atonal music Artaud -­‐ ‘repeated sounds have a hypnotic effect’ The vocal and recorded sounds would be combined with music, silence, light, colour, movement and gesture to create a “total language”. Aim – to create an immersive, dangerous, sensory theatrical experience, which assaults and swamps the audience, leaving them exhausted and changed. 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 Trainining and Research Inst., 1986. Artaud – Some Resources and Links There are many resources associated with Artaud and many books written about him, as well as his own writing. What follows is a selection of places you could find further information/inspiration about Artaud and his theories: Books Artaud Antonin, The Theatre and Its Double (Grove Press, New York, 1958) Barber Stephen, Antonin Artaud: Blows and Bombs (Faber and Faber, London, 1993) Bemel Albert, Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty (Methuen, London, 2001) Scheer, Edward (ed.), Antonin Artaud – A Critical Reader (Routledge, London, 2004) DVDs Mordillat, Gerard (dir.), My Life and Times with Antonin Artaud (Arte Video, France, 2005) Mordillat, Gerard (dir.), The True Story of Artaud the Momo (Arte Video, France, 2005) Theatre Companies The following are YouTube clips, showing the work of some contemporary companies, whose work draws on Artaudian ideas: Romeo Castellucci:­‐romeo-­‐castellucci-­‐societas-­‐raffaello-­‐sanzio-­‐
cesena-­‐italy/ Pina Bausch’s tanztheater: Café Muller DV8 Physical Theatre – Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men Robert Wilson and ‘Theatre of Images’ The breaking down of performer-­‐audience boundaries can be seen effectively in these clips from La Fura del Baus and De La Guarda: Practitioner’s Pathway I started teaching Theatre after leaving university, qualifying a year later and soon packing my bags to head abroad. After eight years of teaching Drama, Theatre and English in the UK, Portugal and Singapore, I felt ready for a shift in focus. In 2010, I moved to London, where I completed an MA in Performance Practice and Research at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, before starting a PhD. My research is practice-­‐based and focuses on the live activation of media in performance. Though I continue to teach at Central and through ISTA, as well as examining the IB Theatre course part time, I am now focused on practically and theoretically investigating performance and its processes, while creating my own live media work. Postdramatic, non-­‐text based, devised and non-­‐traditional forms of theatre and performance (whatever you want to call them!) are a thread which run throughout my research and practice. Many of the contemporary forms of this kind of work which challenge narrative structure, the positioning and role of the audience, and which experiment with what performance is and has the potential to be, trace their origins back to Artaud’s writing. As a researcher and practitioner, I have also therefore always returned to his ideas and the questions he raises which both trouble and enliven the act of theatrical representation. My current dual positioning in the worlds of performance/live art and academia is one which allows me to research, disover, make work and teach; all activities which I love to do and which constantly enrich me. To see more of the live media performance work I make and the research in which I am engaged, please visit my website at: