Antonin Artaud
By: Jason Grote | Categories: HiLo Heroes

artaud-man-ray-1926

As a playwright, I’m always lamenting theater’s (often-deserved) reputation as a staid and boring art, and have often wished for a modern-day ANTONIN ARTAUD (1896-1948) to shake things up. Magician, schizophrenic, (ab)user of opiates and peyote, purged Surrealist, and progenitor of The Theater of Cruelty, Artaud sought to tear the veil between dreams and waking life. His “cruelty” referred not to sadism, but to the ruthless exposure of consensus reality as just another delusion. Like much great art, Artaud’s was based on a misunderstanding: while watching a Balinese puppet show, he misinterpreted a complex language of gestures (universally known in Bali) as pure abstraction, frightening and alien. In his error, performance art was born.

***

Each day, HiLobrow.com pays tribute to one of our favorite high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes on that person’s birthday.

READ MORE about members of the Hardboiled generation (1894-1903).

Share

MORE POSTS by

Jason Grote is a playwright, television writer, and librettist. His best-known play is 1001, a deconstruction of the tales of the Arabian Nights. He wrote for season one of Smash, and is currently a writer for Mad Men.