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July 11, 2005

Research Notes: Artaud, the theatre and its Body without Organs

As a break from Deleuze and Guattari, and as input for a proposed research network on virtuality and performance, i've been reading the collection of essays by Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and its Double. This contains some fascinating schizoanalysis of theatre and its Body without Organs, biological life. Here's some killer lines from the essay on Theatre and the Plague:

Above all we must agree that stage acting is a delirium like the plague, and is communicable. p.18
…conditions must be found to give birth to a spectacle that can fascinate the mind. It is not just art. p.18
The plague takes dormant images, latent disorder and suddenly carries them to the point of the most extereme gestures. Theatre also takes gestures and develops them to the limit. Just like the plague, it reforges the links between what does and does not exist in material nature. p.18
For theatre can only happen the moment the inconcievable really begins, where poetry taking place on stage, nourishes and superheats created symbols. p.18
Like the plague, theatre is a crisis resolved either by death or cure. The plague is a superior disease because it is an absolute crisis after which there is nothing left except death or drastic putrification. In the same way, theatre is a disease because it is the final balance that cannot be obtained without destruction. It urges the mind to delirium which intensifies its energy. p.22