Company’s philosophical approach:
Theatre of Cruelty make performances within the physical tradition and retrieves basic inspiration from Antonin Artaud’s vision of an anatomical theater.
We create theatre with the body’s own musicality, its breath and poetry, as the beginning for all actions. Artaud wanted to awaken the inherent life force that exists in nature and that the Western man seems to have forgotten. Theatre thus becomes a tool for real life. We do not seek to reproduce realistic reality so it can be recognized, but to tell of the core of life inherent in every genuine experience. Although based on a dramatic work or a literary text, the written word does not have a pivotal role and is often lost in the overall stage picture.
The Philosophers’ Stone (1997-99)
… “a threeway drama with metaphysical undercurrents, was written by Antoin Artaud in 1927. Artaud dreamt of assembling a new man, making no use of the divine automatism that asserts itself through the use of genitals for copulation. This must be considered a political vision. Just like ’the philosophers’ stone’ played a crucial role in the alchemists’ attempts at metamorphosis, so was Artaud’s idea to invent a means of altering man without divine intervention, so that life may be resurrected in true autonomy.”
“Antonin Artaud’s The Spurt of Blood from 1925 is a stormy rumination on love, death and the predicaments of humanity concentrated to a few mind-boggling pages. At the core of the play is a simple and eloquent juxtaposition: love in an idealised form versus agents of dominant social forces. Artaud views the social arrangement as cataclysmic, and renders love as a doomed pursuit. Although the text is impossible to divorce from Artaud’s tortured personality, it points no less perceptively at an eternal phenomenon that configures itself anew according to the psychological climate of each era: the terror and longing that arise where societal values and the individual’s emotional life collide. One body of work that throws light upon Artaud’s theme, is that of Erich Fromm – the psychologist and humanist who brought historical and cultural factors within the purview of psychology, and identified the plight of man in the post-existentialist world more lucidly and comprehensively than most: Modern man, claimed Fromm, is unable to sustain the spiritual autonomy granted only recently by the fall of God, and seeks comfort in modern patterns of submission. It appears that the pursuit of “freedom”, more often than not, throws men at the feet of materialism. By the same token, ‘love’ in its most widespread use is coded as a model of extended egotism. However, ‘love’ understood as ‘selflessness’ – an absolute, non-acquisitive principle for life in its entirety – certainly counteracts the self-centred modern mentality, and is likely to suffer isolation, if not mockery. And yet man’s freedom and the affirmation of life in general is rooted in one’s capacity to love unconditionally.
“It would seem that the amount of destructiveness to be found in individuals is proportionate to the amount to which expansiveness of life is curtailed. The tragedy in the life of most of us is that we die before we are fully born”, remarks Fromm. With such observations in mind, Theatre of Cruelty chose to leave the timeless, placeless world of Artaud behind and embark upon a historically allusive interpretation. With actors as mediums, director Lars Øyno invokes icons of liberation utopias and endearing corruption that populate our cultural memory: Hans Christian Andersen, Berthold Brecht, Marilyn Monroe. Replacing the feverish surrealism of the original text with figures such as these, Øyno seems to suggest that Artaud’s ecstatic brew has equally illuminating counterparts in our historical and cultural canon. Of the original The Spurt of Blood, only the opening dialogue between two young lovers has remained. In Artaud’s play, the lovers are interrupted by a whirlwind of mythical proportions, which ends with a scarab falling down on stage with an “exasperating, nauseating slowness”. In Theatre of Cruelty’s production, this particular motif translates into the entire performance: a declining world of grotesque characters, prickling with pretence or agony. The performance takes shape of an exigent process of self-uncovering, sensations reverberating from one character to another and triggering aggressive confrontations. The overall effect is that of a slow-mo horror cabinet, or an infinitely sustained death throe. The Spurt of Blood has become both a tragic love story and a brief history of modern love, narrated in hallucinatory images that emerge from one another, as in a dream.”
Theatre & Science (2007)
“Through this performance, director Lars Øyno and the eleven actresses investigate two texts by the French poet and theatre legend Antonin Artaud, ”Deranging the Actor” and ”Theatre & Science”. The piece aims to bring about a necessary transformation of the actor, the human body and of the world. The patriarchal hierarchy of the world suppresses the creative force of life, controls the fertility and the visions of women, and distracts human thought through the endless attention given to trivial details, but here patriarchy is put on trial and will receive its judgment. Since the stage is only occupied by women, and they were involved in all aspects of the creative process, women’s perspectives of the world are expressed. The aim of the performance is to rediscover ideas, experiences, and thoughts that are lost in the current scramble for material wealth. The eleven actresses seize their bodies, souls and voices, emitting a scream which can point out the direction for a total physiological revolution, without which nothing can be changed.”
Also see: The Mountain Bird (2009)