Antonin Joseph Artaud was a Frenchman, born in September 1896 in Marseilles, and was a major influence on theatrical concepts of expressionism and absurdism. Throughout adolescence Artaud had a nervous and irritable disposition which is said to have been caused by sever attack of meningitis at the age of four- this was thought to be the reason behind his neuralgia, stammering and severe depression. Owing to these problems, his parents had him committed to an asylum for five years where he developed a lifelong addiction to opium (among other drugs), prescribed by the chief doctor.
His time in the Great War opened his eyes to chaos and instability, which paved for his theoretical theory. The manifesto for the “Theatre of Cruelty” and “Theatre and It’s Double” set out his theory that the stage should voice the inner turbulence of the human spirit. Theatre should be a mirror of life but enhanced and taken to an extreme; there should be no limits in achieving an emotional response. The experience of theatre should, according to Artaud, include the audience as part of the experience and places an equal emphasis on all five human senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. The actor’s body should be highly-trained in order to achieve a variety of positions with ease. Strong lungs are required to achieve both loud and quiet sounds in a variety of strenuous positions.
We have decided that we would use Artaud as our practitioner for our piece as we feel that we could use his “Theatre of Cruelty” and audience participation to help us set the scene in some parts of the play.
“The Trial” was written during 20th Century, whilst Kafka was an official in the Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia.
Joseph K is in a waiting room. Unidentified voices arrest him and charge him with an undisclosed crime. At eight o’clock the next morning, two men enter Joseph K’s apartment saying they are sent to guard him. They search his rooms, confiscate his clothes and physically abuse him, without an explanation. An Inspector arrives. Joseph K demands an explanation, but none is provided. So he demands a lawyer, but changes his mind. Joseph K offers the Inspector a bargain, but it is refused. Joseph K leaves for work, arrives at the bank and is wished a happy 30th birthday. A nameless telephone caller informs Joseph K to tell him that he will be interrogated on Sunday. So K finishes work, decides against visiting his usual stripper and goes home. He has a conversation with his landlady, Mrs Grubach, about his arrest and the respectability both of the household and of another lodger named Miss Bï¿½rstner. At eleven o’clock that night, K knocks at Miss Bï¿½rstner’s room and apologises that the guards searched it that morning. He wakes the household explaining the details of the arrest, but she doesn’t understand. He tries to kiss her, but fails awkwardly.
We have chosen “The Trial” as we think that we will be able to develop it into a good piece of Artaudian drama. We feel that we will be able to use some of Artaud’s techniques to make it effective. We aim to: use Physical theatre which is a general term used to describe any mode of performance that pursues storytelling through primarily physical means. There are many different styles of performance which could all, quite legitimately, describe themselves using the term ‘physical theatre’, which has led to a lot of confusion as to what the definition of physical theatre actually is! These include Mime, Contemporary Dance, Clowning, Physical Comedy, Theatrical Acrobatics and sometimes Puppetry. While performances based around all of the above could equally claim to be ‘physical theatre’, it is often difficult to say for certain what is and what is not physical theatre. Distinctions are often made quite arbitrarily by critics and performing companies. Physical Theatre’s primary focus is on the physical work of the actors, expressed through the use of their bodies. Companies like “Complicite” produce work in which language is woven into a physical journey that the audience witnesses. It is a highly visual form of theatre.