Rethink theater

"We must end this idea that masterpieces are reserved for the supposed elite and that the crowd does not understand. The masterpieces of the past are good for the past, they are not good for the present. The idea of ​​things comes through old-fashioned customs and words, which belong to dead times that will never return."
Por Dafne Venet
Jun 5, 2022

For this entry, we will talk about “The theater and its double” by Antonin Artuad. He tells us about the importance of theater and what it means to be part of it. The author criticizes the entrenched thought systems of a European model that focuses on “hunger” or lack. He criticizes the concept of “civilization” and “culture”, where someone civilized and cultivated is a man modeled based on systems, who thinks in systems, in forms, signs and representations. 

The idea of ​​culture has been reduced to a kind of “inconceivable pantheon”, which results in the idolatry of culture. Culture is a refined concept of how to understand and exercise life. We judge someone depending on how they behave and they think how they behave.

Every culture is based on the barbaric and primitive means of totemism, it is used to extract artistic and static profit, but totemism is an actor, since it moves and it is made by actors. What has made us lose culture is our western idea of ​​art and the benefit we derive from it. True culture acts thanks to its exaltation and strength.

That is why theater is made to allow our desires to come to life through singular acts in which the alterations of the fact of living show that the intensity of life is intact and that it is better to direct it. True theater has its shadows, and of all languages ​​and all the arts, it is the only one that still has shadows that have broken through its limitations. 

Our petrified idea of ​​theater is in accordance with our petrified idea of ​​a culture without shadows, but theater is mobile because it uses living instruments. The theater works in all languages: gestures, words, sounds, fire, screams, it is exactly at the point where the spirit needs a language to produce its manifestations.

The fixation of theater in a language: written words, music, lights, noises, indicates that the choice of a language produces a limitation of the spirit. But to destroy language to touch life is to make and remake theater and not believe that this act is reserved or unique to one person. The important thing is that anyone can do it but it takes preparation.

The author continues with a critique of masterpieces, describing them as “stifling atmospheres” which is everything that has been written, formulated or painted and that has taken shape, as if all expression had no purpose. We must end this idea that masterpieces are reserved for the supposed elite and that the crowd does not understand. The masterpieces of the past are good for the past, they are not good for the present. The idea of ​​things comes through old-fashioned customs and words, which belong to dead times that will never return.



“What has been said is no longer said, that an expression is not worth twice, it does not live twice, that every word pronounced is dead and that it only acts at the moment in which it is pronounced, that a form already used does not serve more and that only invites to find another and that the theater is the only place in the world in which a gesture is not made twice.” 

If a person no longer turns to literary masterpieces, it is because those works are literary, fixed, and fixed in ways that no longer respond to the needs of modern times. We must remove the formal veil that stands between us and the people, these new forms of idolatry of static masterpieces is one of the aspects of bourgeois conformism.

The theater is mistakenly considered to perform a lie and an illusion, since the distinction has been made between the spectacle on one side and the public on the other and because we have no longer shown the people that it is a mirror of itself.

The author criticizes the Shakespearean idea of ​​theater, that idea of ​​a distant art, of a poetry-charm that only serves for enchanted leisure, is an idea of ​​decadence. It doesn’t do anything or produce anything. The veneration before what has already been done, however beautiful and valuable it may be, is what petrifies us, what makes us static and prevents us from coming into contact with the force that lies beneath us, that which we call energy.

That is why the author proposes a theater in a higher sense that can influence things and that the images launched provoke some reaction in the organism. Proposes the “theater of cruelty.” A cruel and difficult theater for itself, the cruelty that tells us that we are not free and that the theater is made to teach us that. This idea of ​​a deterministic theater is to evoke all sensation in the viewer, making it not to one side of the show, but that the viewer is in the center and that the show is surrounding him. 

Return to the theater of elemental magic: an idea that if we want to cure a patient, that he assumes the exterior attitude of the state to which we want to lead him. It is intended that the example evokes the example, that the attitude of healing invites healing. It proposes a theater in which violent physical images shake and hypnotize the viewer’s sensitivity. A theater that produces trances and that addresses the organism through precise means. A somewhat risky idea, but it all depends on the way and the purity in which things are done.

Dafne Venet

Dafne Venet

Arts & Books writer of The Bookish Man.
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