The Theatre of Cruelty from Artaud to In-Yer-Face


Instructor: Anton Bonnici

From the Ancient Greeks to the present day, theatre has thrived on shocking topics such as murder, suicide, torture, fornication, incest, rape, infanticide, cannibalism, or any combination of the above. But while playwrights’ desire to shock and challenge exists in every epoch, it was elevated to the raison d’être of theatre in the work of French playwright Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), particularly his manifesto for a Theatre of Cruelty. Artaud described theatre as a plague, as a series of boils and lacerations on the body politic that could alert audiences to the sick reality underneath and to the need for change.

Artaud’s call found a forceful response in In-Yer-Face Theatre, a movement that shook the London theatre scene in the 1990s. This theatre was so extreme that it often made audiences’ stomachs churn. It offered food for thought, but only once the trauma of the performance had been digested. In this course, we will explore the In-Yer-Face movement through two of its most prominent playwrights, Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill. With Artaud’s manifesto as our guide, we will discuss topics such as the interplay of power, sexuality, and violence; nudity on stage; masculinity in crisis; and representations of queer realities, all the while trying to assess the value, meaning, and limits of shocking and experiential theatre.

Maximum enrollment: 10


Spring 2021
18 hours (4-6 weeks)
Exact times and dates are determined in consultation with the participants.


5 Rue des Fontaines du Temple
75003, Paris

FREE for PICT Members only. Become a PICT Member.

All PICT courses are held in person.

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