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Sounds of Artaud

A journey through a different sound space

Creator: Miguel Álvarez-Fernández
Speaker: Luis Mata
Podcast: Contexts
  • Image 1 of the program Sounds of Artaud
    Antonin Artaud. Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu (To Have Done with the Judgement of God), 1947

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Antonin Artaud (born in Marseille in 1896, died in Paris in 1948) developed – through what he himself called the Theatre of Cruelty – a new form of theatre art in which the importance of the spoken word was minimised. Actors were to let themselves be carried away by a combination of unusual sounds and physical movements in a context characterised by the elimination of the usual stage devices and props.

This situation was described by theoretician Allen S. Weiss thusly: “[…] where theatrical events would no longer be subordinated to a written text, as was the case with Western theatre up until that time. This [Theatre of Cruelty] was to be an anti-naturalist, antirealist, anti-psychological theatre, where screams, cries, groans, and all of the dissonant sounds of the human body would bear equal importance with the written word, and where language itself would be utilised as a sort of incantation to create a theatre of dramatic and curative magic.” In theory, Artaud’s concept was based on the idea that language limits the spirit’s capacity to reach pure sensations, which are enslaved by the principle of reality. To counteract this influence, Artaud proposed a type of theatre in which all vestiges of language were eliminated and where the actors, who were almost nude onstage, expressed themselves through movements and actions. These ideas were essentially presented in his 1938 book The Theatre and its Double. Although Artuad’s chronic illnesses (both physical and mental, in part the result of a case of childhood meningitis) prevented him from putting his ideas into practice, the concept of a sound shape – albeit partial and tentative – can be found in his 1947 radio play Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu (To Have Done with the Judgement of God), from which fragments continue to be extracted.

The radio debut of Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu (To Have Done with the Judgement of God) was programmed for 10:45 p.m. on Monday 2 February 1948, but it was cancelled the day before its scheduled airing. The director of Radio France refused to allow the piece to be broadcast due to, among other things, its scatological content, combined with its anti-Catholic and anti-American proclamations. Therefore, it was not possible to debut this composition on the radio (it would only be broadcast on Radio France 30 years later), nor was it possible for its creator to hear it on the radio, since Artaud died on 4 March 1948. His death, then, marks a work doomed to fail to put an end to, or have done with the judgement of God.



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  • kHzlxbeoVccqHk says:

    Of course, a poet can’t hear of vneryoee there are so many poets that one is bound to be constantly over-looking great writers, and it’s not like this list of poets mentioned is conclusive in anyway or would be a list most poets would compile of essential writers, so, in that respect, I can’t be shocked that some random poet has not heard of other random poets, since there are many random poets. Though, that particular list contained enough big names that, I guess, young poet man should have heard of them. Maybe he wasn’t reading at all, or, if he was merely relying on teachers to tell him what to read, he’s already an idiot.I’m of two minds on this. I agree that, depending on what program you’re in, you can receive a narrow education and only be exposed to those poets whom the professors like. On the other hand, regardless of whether you’re in an MFA program, it’s still your responsibility as a writer to seek out books and poets and to educate yourself. You should be doing that at all times anyway and should be aware that a handful of poetry teachers are going to expose you to what they’re familiar with. This is no surprise or secret. There are just too many poets in print to cover all the bases.And no, I don’t think you need an MFA to become a good writer. Not sure which program Shakespeare attended (Iowa?). However, there’s nothing really wrong with spend 2-3 years working on your craft with several other writers in close proximity. Sure, you can do that elsewhere, but the intentional immersion (though not priceless, indeed pricey) involves an act of committment that can force you, in ways not otherwise possible for you, to get serious.That, and, the market value for an MFA in creative writing is growing. I hear GM is hiring poets to design the lines of their new hybrids. (A previous experiment was conducted with poets working on the Nissan Stanza.)