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Antonin Artaud's
The Theatre and the Plague

Antonin Artaud’s The Theatre and the Plague is a cinematic reading of the homonymous essay by the French poet Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) in times of the coronavirus pandemic. The project, directed by Wolfgang Pannek, co-director of Taanteatro Companhia (São Paulo, Brazil), has the collaboration of artists (dancers, actors, writers, painters) and academics from five continents.

 

The Theatre and the Plague, is the first, today prophetic-iconic text from Artaud's best-known book, The Theatre and its Double. Originally presented as a performative lecture on April 6, 1933, at the Sorbonne, this essay outlines the foundations of the Theater of Cruelty by establishing an analogy between the rupture of the civilizational order caused by the “plague” and the “convulsive passions”

to be triggered by the virulence of the transgressive theatrical poetics designed by Artaud.

 

For the purposes of the cinematographic project, the Artaudian text was sequenced in 8 segments with different thematic focuses and distributed among the artists. The collaborators accepted the challenge of creating an audiovisual dramaturgy, associating Artaud's text - recorded in their respectives language - with their subjective experience during the pandemic under the conditions of social distancing in their respective geographical location. This work process, carried out with cell phones, tablets and elementary digital cameras, resulted in a set of 18 short films, lasting between 4 and 11 minutes each.

 

These films were then reedited in order to integrate Antonin Artaud’s The Theatre and the Plague, a 62-minute feature film consisting of 16 short films, spoken in 11 languages ​​and subtitled in English.  This movie created in 2020 features the text of The Theatre and the Plague in its entirety and brings together people, landscapes and sensibilities ranging from São Paulo to Paris, from Brisbane to Garðabær and from Maputo to Khon Kaen.