While developing my graduation piece at the ZHdK I was prompted to revisit the “Theatre and its Double” by Antonin Artaud, as a theoretical point of reflexion. The “Theatre of Cruelty (First Manifesto)” in “Theatre and its Double” struck really close to the concept, ideas, and form which I was trying to establish with my work. It felt natural to use it as a building block in my thesis. The idea to revisit and rewrite the Manifesto came soon after. Of course this had to be done in such a way, that it not only looks directly into my practice, but also gives a broader view on what would it mean for the “Theatre of Cruelty Manifesto” if it was written in 2023 with the specifics of its new time.
I must admit, due to my background in Fine Arts I am a person that is drawn to material and matter. Perhaps this is exactly what drew me to Artaud’s Manifesto – he isn’t too theoretical about it, as opposed to other chapters in his book. Of course that has also to do with the Manifesto as a Manifesto, it is intended as something that could be instantly practically applied. However given that it was written in 1932, it is rather obvious that among others terms such as Stage, Actor and Puppet nowadays have an even broader meaning than they did during Artaud’s time.
Theatre has undergone an immense metamorphosis in recent times: what we understand as theatre, what we practise, the stories we tell and the ways in which we tell them. Material has evolved as well. Our sensory skills are different. Terms such as trigger and response, have many connotations. Various boundaries (in whichever aspect) have been continuously tested and redefined.