QUOTES ABOUT MYTHICAL AND SUPERNATURAL CREATURES
“THE WOLF GIFT" by Anne Rice
INITIATIONS, ARTAUD'S THEATER OF CRUELTY AND TRANSCENDENCE.
In a ritual, in order to "transcend", promote “change"or make the move from the old to the new, the “death”, "destruction" or “sensitizing” of the old is required. The person initiated, must undergo an intense pain or other sensation to be able to let go of the old and embrace the new. This is the same principle behind the idea of "destruction" to promote growth, create a clean slate, etc. and perhaaps the concept proposed by Artaud with his Theater of Cruelty.
"In his writings on the Theatre of Cruelty, Artaud points to definitions of both “theatre” and “cruelty” that are separate from their colloquial meanings. For Artaud, theatre does not merely refer to a staged performance before a passive audience. The theatre is a practice, which “wakes us up. Nerves and heart,” and through which we experience, “immediate violent action,” that “inspires us with the fiery magnetism of its images and acts upon us like a spiritual therapeutics whose touch can never be forgotten.”
"Similarly, cruelty does not refer to an act of emotional or physical violence. According to scholar Nathan Gorelick, “Cruelty is, more profoundly, the unrelenting agitation of a life that has become unnecessary, lazy, or removed from a compelling force. The Theatre of Cruelty gives expression to everything that is ‘crime, love, war, or madness’ in order to ‘unforgettably root within us the ideas of perpetual conflict, a spasm in which life is continually lacerated, in which everything in creation rises up and asserts itself against our appointed rank.’ "
This is also idea behind the "initiation" ritual in The Absolute Theater: in order to achieve "nudity of the soul" and therefore, fascilitate "change", the actors must strip down to a "bare canvas" to make room for the "new" to flourish. Same applies to the audience. They also need to be "initiated" and "liberated" from pre-conceptions before they are ready to accept the proposals made by the actors and the play.
QUOTES ABOUT PHYSICAL-SENSES THEATER
“THE THEATER AND ITS DOUBLE" by Antonin Artaud
I say that the stage is a concrete physical place which asks to be filled, and to be given its own concrete language to speak.
I say that this concrete language, intended for the senses and independent of speech, has first to satisfy the senses, that there is a poetry of the senses as there is poetry of language, and that this concrete physical language to which I refer is truly theatrical only to the degree that the thoughts it expresses are beyond the reach of the spoken language.
What is essential now, it seems to me, is to determine what this physical language consists of, this solidified, materialized language by means of which theater is able to differentiate itself from speech.
It consists of everything that occupies the stage, everything that can be manifested and expressed materially on a stage and that is addressed first of all to the senses instead of being addressed primarily to the mind as is the language of words. (I am well aware that words too have possibilities as sound, different ways of being projected into space, which are called intonations. Furthermore, there would be a great deal to say about the concrete value of intonation in the theater, about this faculty words have of creating music in their own right according to the way they are pronounced, independently of their concrete meaning and even going counter to this meaning - of creating beneath language a subterranean current of impressions, correspondences, and analogies; but this theatrical consideration of language is already a subordinate aspect of language for the playwright, an accessory consideration of which, especially in our time, he takes no account in the construction of his plays. So let us pass on.)
But it permits the substitution, for the poetry of language, of a poetry in space which will be resolved in precisely the domain which does not belong strictly to words.
The idea of a play made directly in terms of a stage, encountering obstacles of both production and performance, compels the discovery of an active language, active and archaic, a language in which the customary limits of feelings and words are transcended.
To make metaphysics out of a spoken language is to make the language express what it does not ordinarily express: to make use of it in a new, exceptional, and unaccustomed fashion; to reveal its possibilities for producing physical shock; to divide and distribute it actively in space; to deal with intonations in an absolutely concrete manner, restoring their power to shatter as well as really to manifest something; to turn against language and its basely utilitarian, one could say alimentary, sources, against its trapped-beast origins; and finally, to consider language as the form of Incantation.
This idea of the supremacy of speech in the theater is so deeply rooted in us, and the theater seems to such degree merely the material reflection of the text, that everything in the theater that exceeds this text, that is not kept within its limits and strictly conditioned by it, seems to us purely a matter of mise en scène, and quite inferior in comparison with the text.
Once we regard this language of the mise en scène as the pure theatrical language, we must discover whether … One can wonder, in other words, whether it has the power, not to define thoughts but to cause thinking, whether it may not entice the mind to take profound and efficacious attitudes toward it from its own point of view.
To cause spoken language or expression by words to dominate on the stage the objective expression of gestures and of everything which affects the mind by sensuous and spatial means is to turn one’s back on the physical necessities of the stage and to rebel against its possibilities.
“All true feeling is in reality untranslatable. To express it is to betray it. But to translate it is to dissimulate it. True expression hides what it makes manifest. It sets the mind in opposition to the real void of nature by creating in reaction a kind of fullness in thought. Or, in other terms, in relation to the manifestation-illusion of nature it creates a void in thought. All powerful feeling produces in us the idea of the void. And the lucid language which obstructs the appearance of this void also obstructs the appearance of poetry of thought.
It is not a matter of suppressing speech in the theater but of changing its role, and especially of reducing its position, of considering it as something else than a means of conducting human characters to their external ends, since the theater is concerned only with the way feelings and passions conflict with one another, and man with man, in life.
I propose to return through the theater to an idea of the physical knowledge of images and the means of inducing trances, as in Chinese medicine which knows, over the entire extent of the human anatomy, at what points to puncture in order to regulate the subtlest functions.
The theater is the only place in the world, the last general means we still possess of directly affecting the organism and, in periods of neurosis and petty sensuality like the one in which we are immersed, of attacking this sensuality by physical means it cannot withstand.
A theater that induces trance, as the dances of Dervishes induce trance, and that addresses itself to the organism by precise instruments, by the same means as those of certain tribal cures which we admire on records but are incapable of originating among ourselves.
That is to say: instead of continuing to rely upon texts considered definitive and sacred, it is essential to put an end to the subjugation of the theater to the text, and to recover the notion of a kind of unique language half-way between gesture and thought.
It is not a question of suppressing the spoken language, but of giving words approximately the importance they have in dreams.
Theater …, will no longer be based on dialogue, and dialogue itself, the little that will remain, will not be written out and fixed a priori, but will be put on the stage, crated on the stage, in correlation with the requirements of attitudes, signs, movements and objects
The composition, the creation, instead of being made in the brain of an author, will be made in nature itself, in real space, and the final result will be as strict and calculated as that of any written work whatsoever, with an immense objective richness as well.
It is called upon us to address not only the mind but the senses, and through the senses to attain still richer and more fecund regions of the sensibility at full tide.
Admittedly or not, conscious or unconscious, the poetic state, a transcendent experience of life, is what the public is fundamentally seeking through love, crime, drugs, war, or insurrection.
These images, movements, dances, rites, these fragmented melodies and sudden turns of dialogue will be carefully recorded and described as far as possible with words, especially for the portions of the spectacle not in dialogue, the principle here being to record in codes, as on a musical score, what cannot be described in words.
"THE EMPTY SPACE" by Peter Brook
In a living theatre, we would each day approach the rehearsal putting yesterday’s discoveries to the test, ready to believe that the true play has once again escaped us. But the Deadly Theatre approaches the classics from the viewpoint that somewhere, someone has found out and defined how the play should be done.
In the theatre, every form once born is mortal; every form must be reconceived, and its new conception will bear the marks of all the influences that surround it.
Because if one starts from the premise that a stage is a stage - not a convenient place for the unfolding of a staged novel or a staged poem or a staged lecture or a staged story - then the word that is spoken on this stage exists, or fails to exist, only in relation to the tensions it creates on that stage within the given stage circumstances.
Many examples of this can be seen wherever an author fro moral or political reasons attempts to use a play as a bearer of a message. Whatever the value of this message, in the end it only works according to values that belong to the stage itself. An author today can easily cheat himself if he thinks that he can “use” a conventional form as a vehicle. This was true when conventional forms still had life for their audience.
A Holy Theatre in which the blazing centre speaks through those forms closest to it. A theatre working like the plague, by intoxication, by infection, by analogy, by magic; a theatre in which the play, the event itself, stands in place of a text.
We were denying psychology, we were trying to smash the apparently water-tight divisions between the private and the public man: the outer man whose behaviour is bound by the photographic rules of everyday life, who must sit to sit, stand to stand - and the inner man whose anarchy and poetry is usually expressed only in his words.
What he (Artaud) wanted in his search for holiness was absolute: he wanted a theatre that would be a hallowed place: he wanted that theatre served by a band of dedicated actors and directors who would create out of their own natures and unending succession of violent stage images, bringing about such powerful immediate explosions of human matter that no one would ever again revert to a theatre of anecdote and talk. He wanted the theatre to contain all that normally is reserved for crime and war. He wanted an audience that would drop all its defenses, that would allow itself to be perforated, shocked, startled. and raped, so that at the same time it could be filled with a powerful new change.
Jean Genet can write the most eloquent language, but the amazing impressions in his plays are very often brought about by the visual inventions with which he juxtaposes serious, beautiful, grotesque and ridiculous elements.
Here we have an example of the “happening” effect - the moment when the illogical breaks through our everyday understanding to make us open our eyes more widely.
This activity does not demand manifestations - the audience that answers back may seem active, but this may be quite superficial - true activity can be invisible, but also indivisible.
“TOWARDS A POOR THEATER" by Jerzy Grotowski
The actor should be able to decipher all the problems of his body which are accessible to him. He should know how to direct the air to those parts of the body where sound can be created and amplified by a sort of resonator. The average actor knows only the head resonator; that is, he uses his head as a resonator to amplify his voice, making it sound more "noble", more agreeable to the audience. He may even at times, fortuitously, make use of the chest resonator. But the actor who investigates closely the possibilities of his own organism discovers that the number of resonators is practically unlimited. He can exploit not only his head and chest, but also the back of his head (occiput), his nose, his teeth, his larynx, his belly, his spine, as well as a total resonator which actually comprises the whole body and many others, some of which are still unknown to us. (RESONANCE)
One must resort to a metaphorical language to say that the decisive factor in this process is humility, a spiritual predisposition: not to do something, but to refrain from doing something, otherwise the excess becomes impudence instead of sacrifice. This means that the actor must act in a state of trance. Trance, as I understand it, is the ability to concentrate in a particular theatrical way and can be attained with a minimum of good-will. (TRANCING)
The theatre must recognize its own limitations. If it cannot be richer than the cinema, then let it be poor. If it cannot be as lavish as television, let it be ascetic. If it cannot be a technical attraction, Let it renounce all outward technique. Thus we are left with a “holy" actor in a poor theatre.
There is only one element of which film and television cannot rob the theatre: the closeness of the living organism. Because of this, each challenge from the actor, each of his magical acts (which the audience is incapable of reproducing) becomes something great, something extraordinary, something close to ecstacy. It is therefore necessary to abolish the distance between actor and audience by eliminating the stage, removing all frontiers. Let the most drastic scenes happen face to face with the spectator so that he is within arm's reach of the actor, can feel his breathing and smell the perspiration.
In order that the spectator may be stimulated into self-analysis when confronted with the actor, there must be some common ground already existing in both of them, something they can either dismiss in one gesture or jointly worship. Therefore the theatre must attack what might be called the collective complexes of society, the core of the collective subconscious or perhaps super-conscious (it does not matter what we call it), the myths which are not an invention of the mind but are, so to speak, inherited through one's blood, religion, culture and climate. (POINT OF CONNECTION - MYTHS)
If we start working on a theatre performance or a role by violating our inner-most selves, searching for the things which can hurt us most deeply, but which at the same time give us a total feeling of purifying truth that finally brings peace, then we will inevitably end up with representations collectives. (P.O.C. - MYTHS) To spark off this particular process of provocation in the audience, one must break away from the trampoline represented by the text and which is already overloaded with a number of general associations. For this we need either a classical text to which, through a sort of profanation, we simultaneously restore its truth, or a modern text which might well be banal and stereotyped in its content, but nevertheless rooted in the psyche of society.
The actor who, in this special process of discipline and self-sacrifice, self-penetration and moulding, is not afraid to go beyond all normally acceptable limits, attains a kind of inner harmony and peace of mind. He literally becomes much sounder in mind and body, and his way of life is more normal than that of an actor in the rich theatre. (NO LIMITS)
If we only engage ourselves superficially in this process of analysis and exposure - and this can produce ample aesthetical effects - that is, if we retain our daily mask of lies, then we witness a conflict between this mask and ourselves. But if this process is followed through to its extreme limit, we can in full consciousness put back our everyday mask, knowing now what purpose and what it conceals beneath it. This is a confirmation not of the negative in us but of the positive, not of what is poorest but of what is richest. It also leads to a liberation from complexes in much the same way as psycho-analytic therapy.
The member of an audience who accepts the actor's invitation and to a certain extent follows his example by activating himself in the same way, leaves the theatre in a state of greater inner harmony. But he who fights to keep his mask of lies intact at all costs, leaves the performance even more confused. I am convinced that on the whole, even in the latter case, the performance represents a form of social psycho-therapy, whereas for the actor it is only a therapy if he has given himself whole- heartedly to his task.
This element of warm openness is technically tangible. It alone, if reciprocal, can enable the actor to undertake the most extreme efforts without any fear of being laughed at or humiliated. The type of work which creates such confidence makes words unnecessary during rehearsals. When at work, the beginnings of a sound or sometimes even silence are enough to make oneself understood. What is born in the actor is engendered together, but in the end the result is far more a part of him than those results obtained at rehearsals in the "normal" theatre.
The performance is national because it is a sincere and absolute search into our historical ego; it is realistic because it is an excess of truth; it is social because it is a challenge to the social being, the spectator.
Faced with this literature, we ca take up one of two positions: either, we can illustrate the text through the interpretation of the actors, the mise en scene, the scenery, the play situation... In that case, the result is no theatre, and the only living element in such a performance is the literature. Or, we can virtually ignore the text, treating it solely as a pretext, making interpolations and changes, reducing it to nothing. I feel that both of these two solutions are false ones because in both cases we are not fulfilling our duties as artists but trying to comply with certain rules - and art doesn't like rules. Masterpieces are always based on the transcendence of rules. Though of course, the test is in the performance.
The core of the theatre is an encounter. The man who makes a act of self-revelation is, so to speak, one who establishes contact with himself. That is to say,an extreme confrontation, sincere, disciplined, precise and total - not merely a confrontation with his thoughts, but one involving his whole being from his instincts and his unconscious right up to his most lucid state.
The strength of great works really consists in their catalystic effect: they open doors for us, set in motion the machinery of our self-awareness. My encounter with the text resembles my encounter with the actor and his with me. For both producer and actor, the author's text is a sort of scalpel enabling us to open ourselves, to transcend ourselves, to find what is' hidden within us and to make the act of encountering the others; in other words, to transcend our solitude.
For when in the theatre we dispose of the tricks of make-up and costume, stuffed bellies and false noses, and when we propose to the actor that he should transform himself before the spectator's eyes using only his inner impulse his body, when we state that the magic of theatre consists in this transformation as it comes to birth, we once more raise the question: did Artaud ever suggest any kind of magic?
A confrontation is a "trying out", a testing of whatever is a traditional value. A performance which, like an electrical transformer, adjusts our experience to those of past generations (and vice versa), a performance conceived as a combat against traditional and contemporary values (whence "transgression") - this seems to me the only real chance for myth to work in the theatre. An honest renewal can only be found in this double game of values, this attachment and rejection, this revolt and submissiveness.
The actor should not use his organism to illustrate a "movement of the soul", he should accomplish this movement with his organism.
We feel that an actor reaches the essence of his vocation whenever he commits an act of sincerity, when he unveils himself, opens and gives himself in an extreme, solemn gesture, and does not hold back before any obstacle set by custom and behaviour.
Theatre - through the actor's technique, his art in which the living organism strives for higher motives - provides an opportunity for what could be called integration, the discarding of masks, the revealing of the real substance: a totality of physical and mental reactions. This opportunity must be treated in a disciplined manner, with a full awareness of the responsibilities it involves. He we can see the theatre's therapeutic function for people in our present day civilization. It is true that the actor accomplishes this act, but he can only do so through an encounter with the spectator - intimately, visibly, not hiding behind a cameraman, wardrobe mistress, stage designer or make-up girl - in direct confrontation with him, and somehow "instead of" him. The actor's act - discarding half measures, revealing, opening up, emerging from himself as opposed to closing up - is an invitation to the spectator. This act could be compared to an act of the most deeply rooted, genuine love between two human beings - this is just a comparison since we can only refer to this "emergence from oneself' through analogy. This act, paradoxical and borderline, we call a total act. In our opinion it epitomizes the actor's deepest calling.
Why do we sacrifice so much energy to our art? Not in order to teach others but to learn with them what our existence, our organism, our personal and unrepeatable experience have to give us; to learn to break down the barriers which surround us and to free ourselves from the breaks which hold, us back, from the lies about ourselves which we manufacture daily for ourselves and for others; to destroy the limitations caused by our ignorance and lack of courage; in short, to fill the emptiness in us: to fulfill ourselves. Art is neither a state of the soul (in the sense of some extraordinary, unpredictable moment of inspiration) nor a state of man (in the sense of a profession or social function). Art is a ripening, an evolution, an uplifting which enables us to emerge from darkness into a blaze of light.
Theatre only has a meaning if it allows us to transcend our stereotyped vision, our conventional feelings and customs, our standards of judgement - not just for the sake of doing so, but so that we may experience what is real and, having already given up all daily escapes and pretenses, in a state of complete defenselessness unveil, give, discover ourselves. In this way - through shock, through the shudder which causes us to drop our daily masks and mannerisms - we are able, without hiding anything, to entrust ourselves to something we cannot name but in which live Eros and Charitas.
Art cannot be bound by the laws of common morality or any catechism. The actor, at least in part, is creator, model and creation rolled into one. He must not be shameless as that leads to exhibitionism. He must have courage, but not merely the courage to exhibit himself - a passive courage, we might say: the courage of the defenseless, the courage to reveal himself. Neither that which touches the interior sphere, nor the profound stripping bare of the self should be regarded as evil so long as in the process of preparation or in the completed work they produce an act of creation. If they do not come easily and if they are not signs of outburst but of mastership, then they are creative: they reveal and purify us while we transcend ourselves. Indeed, they improve us then.
This calling is realized through carnality. The actor must not illustrate but accomplish an “act of the soul" by means of his own organism. Thus he is faced with two extreme alternatives: he can either sell, dishonor, his real "incarnate" self, making himself an object of artistic prostitution; or he can give himself, sanctify his real "incarnate" self.
An actor can only be guided and inspired by someone who is whole-hearted in his creative activity. The producer, while guiding and inspiring the actor, must at the same time allow himself to be guided and inspired by him. It is a question of freedom, partnership, and this does not imply a lack of discipline but a respect for the autonomy of others.
If we try to explain it theoretically, we might say that the theatre and acting are for us a kind of vehicle allowing us to emerge from ourselves, to fulfill ourselves.
The main point then is that an actor should not try to acquire an kind of recipe or build up a "box of tricks". This is no place for collecting all sorts of means of expression. The force of gravity in our work pushes the actor towards an interior ripening which expresses itself through a willingness to break through barriers, to search for a "summit", for totality.