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The Theater and Its Double Paperback – January 7, 1994


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Paperback, January 7, 1994
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 159 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Later Printing Used edition (January 7, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802150306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802150301
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since its first publication in 1938, The Theater and Its Double by the French artist and philosopher Antonin Artaud has continued to provoke, inspire, enrage, enliven, challenge, and goad any number of theatrical debates in its call for a "Theater of Cruelty." A trio of theatrical manifestos, the book is an aggressive attack on many of the most treasured beliefs of both theater and Western culture. According to Artaud, the theater's "double" is similar to its Jungian "shadow," the unacknowledged, unconscious element that completes it but is in many ways its opposite. As "culture" inexorably draws the artistic impulse into safe channels, the repressed irrational urges of theater, based on dreams, religion, and emotion, are increasingly necessary to "purge" the sickness of society. Artaud identifies language itself as one of the major cultural culprits, and his attacks on it occasionally makes his text rough going. But his challenge to restore relevance to the heart of the theatrical experience remains fundamental to the vitality of theater, and his insistence on the sensory experience of drama as opposed to the literary (and such innovative ideas as the use of unconventional "found spaces") continues to be the clarion call of the theatrical avant-garde. --John Longenbaugh

Customer Reviews

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Whatever one thinks of Artaud's ideas, he provides much food for thought.
Margaret Coldiron
Antonin Artaud's forward thinking and innovatiove views on the theatre are an essential read for any practisioner of the theatrical arts.
Shanna Mawavise
I would recommend it to anyone interested in the darker side of life as well as (and especially) theatre students/enthusiasts.
Amanda

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Absurdist Ad Nauseam on October 28, 2000
I'll admit that this is the first time I've read Artaud. And I'll admit that when I began reading the first section, The Theater and the Plague, I thought on numerous occasions, "Where is this guy going with this?" Upon concluding this section, and after picking myself up off the floor, I returned to the beginning for a another read through, and again, afterward, found myself floored. Artaud presents a take on theatre like none other. A take that many may disagree with, but few can deny the illuminating profundity of his analogies, correlations, and general theatrical philosophizing. But don't think Artaud is without a sense of humor. With a blurt like, "I saw some sort of human snakes, otherwise known as playwrights, explain how to worm a play into the good graces of a director...", whose not going to let out a chuckle? (Especially if you're guilty). In addition, this book boasts some of the best writing that I've ever read. His writing is crisp, unmasked, and intellectually and visually stimulating. And as an added bonus, nine "I'm an ugly man smoking a cigarette" black and white photos precede the text. At $10, "The Theater And Its Double" won't disappoint.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mr Mondo on May 24, 2002
Antonin Artaud's obsession -- and I don't think that's too strong a word in this context -- lay in building a new philosophical framework for live theater, one that would give audiences unmediated access to powerful metaphysical truths. This book is keystone text that illuminates the rest of his life's work. Ultimately, it's not a satisfying one because of its repetitive and mystical nature and because, placed in historical context, Artaud's conception of what should constitute living theater seems somewhat constricted to later, media-saturated generations.
Let there be no mistake, however. The theatre francais of Artaud's day was hidebound by convention, a convention that surrealism took as somewhat of a challenge to overturn. Artaud's plea for a theater that would de-emphasize the spoken text and accord more emphasis on light, sound, movement and elaborate combinations of anything non-verbal that could be brought to bear on audiences is part and parcel of the surrealist rejection of theatrical convention. It is striking that Artaud, himself a marvelous film actor, dismissed out of hand the notion that motion pictures as an art form could do what live theater could not. In this respect lies the most obvious example of his limited vision. Film would eventually provide the director with all the tools that Artaud dreamed of for his Theatre of Cruelty. Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa and Tarkovsky would all draw heavily on the notion of subordinating conventional dialogue to image and sound. Artaud's notion of theater is further undercut by the rise of television, its ubiquity and, in the age of digital electronics and computers, its raw immediacy.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Coldiron on October 24, 1999
I've kept my ratty copy of this book for 25 years wherever I have gone. It is a very serviceable translation of a seminal work of 20th century theatre criticism. Whatever one thinks of Artaud's ideas, he provides much food for thought. Essential reading for study or for pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sumner Alsace on January 12, 2007
Verified Purchase
This is definitely required reading for theatre students. It will help you better understand the shift in modern and experimental theatre that has transpired over the course of the last century. It will also help you better understand the basis for a lot of horrible theatre concepts staged by overzealous students and professors, the world over.... Be wary of people throwing around the Theatre of Cruetly catchphrase as if they know what it means....
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 26, 1999
Through his theories of the theatre as a plague and as cruelty, Artaud defines in a small space exactly what American theatre has lost complete track of. If you hope to understand what theatre is and how it truly manifests itself, intently study this book. If you do not, then go away!
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