The Epic Cruelty of Marat/Sade

Instructor: Anton Bonnici

In 1963, Peter Weiss published his seminal play, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, commonly known as Marat/Sade. One year later, the play was staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company under the direction of Peter Brook, a production whose ingenuity and impact remain undeniable to this day. Combining a complex philosophical and political engagement with an exhilarating sensory onslaught of language and imagery, Marat/Sade achieves artistic heights only rarely encountered. However, the play must also be read as the culmination of two theatre perspectives born in the first half of the twentieth century: the Epic Theatre of Bertolt Brecht and the Theatre of Cruelty of Antonin Artaud.

In this course, we will trace the foundations of Brook’s production of Marat/Sade in Brecht’s Epic Theatre and Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. Though they are known sources of inspiration for numerous theatre makers in the second half of the twentieth century, the impact of Brecht’s and Artaud’s experimentations is not always properly considered. With the aim of further exploring and understanding this impact, we will examine the core subversive ideas developed by Brecht and Artaud in a number of key productions and essays. In this way, we will establish the foundational conceptual framework for a theatre perspective which we may describe as Epic Cruelty, a perspective that will not just give us a deeper understanding of Marat/Sade, but also show us what it takes to create a work such as this.

Maximum enrollment: 10


Wednesdays, 19:00 – 22:00
11 May – 1 June 2022
12 hours (4 weeks)


75016, Paris

All PICT courses are held in person.

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