THE OZFRANK ARTAUD PROJECT
A TWO TRACK DVD.
JACQUI'S LOOSE INTERPRETATION OF ANTONIN ARTAUD'S SWAN SONG THE RADIO PLAY TO HAVE DONE WITH THE JUDGMENT OF GOD FOR 5 MEN DRESSED IN LONG BLACK SKIRTS.
THEY CREATED A FEELING AND ENERGY THAT MATCHES THE VEHEMENCE AND CATHARSIS OF ARTAUD'S WRITING WITHOUT THE SACRILEGIOUS SWEARING.
TRACK 2: A VIDEO DOCUMENTARY ON ARTAUD THE MOMO, CONTAINING INSIGHTS INTO THE MAN'S MIND, PLUS FOOTAGE FROM TRACK 1, SHOWING WAYS TO INTERPRET HIS IDEAS WITHOUT GETTING ARRESTED.
INSIGHT: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LOOK ON THE DARK SIDE OF LIFE.
WARNING: ALTHOUGH THIS DVD HAS LOW QUALITY FOOTAGE, THE PENETRATING INSIGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS MORE THAN COMPENSATE FOR THE VISUAL DEFICIENCIES, AND MAKE FOR AN INSIGHTFUL DOCUMENT USEFUL FOR THOSE HIP ENOUGH TO CUT THROUGH INTO DEEP PLAY.
Available only from ozfrank : firstname.lastname@example.org
To Have Done with the Judgement of God:
ANTONIN ARTAUD (1895-1948)
Antonin Artaud (September 4, 1896 - March 4, 1948) was a French thespian. Probably the most extreme theatrical pedagogue who ever lived, and for his troubles was locked away in an asylum before and during WW2, which was not such a good place to be. Before he was put in the rubber room, he was one of the best looking actors of all time - afterwards he had lost all his teeth and looked even nuttier than he was, which is saying something!
Actually, he belongs to the class of geniuses such as Nijinsky and Van Gogh, who aren't so much bonkers as 50 years ahead of the crowd, and who like A, became terminally disaffected, because they go where others can't imagine.
For somebody who was a hardcore wicked pixie, he was at times remarkably lucid and prescient, even though his ideas were, shall we say, 'trans-orbital', i.e. unproducable! His only staged full length work 'The Cenci', seems to have been a complete schemozzle. However when Grotowski surfaced in the mid 60's with his revelatory 'sacrificial theatre' it was an instance of Artaud's ideas scaled back and made possible.(although the Grot never knew about A when he was tricking out the lab) Later on when Brook made a motza by diluting Grotowski in earnest epics like the Mahabharata, A's ideas became even more mainstream, and today every little half baked student theatre piece has the scattered remnants of Artaudian DNA sprinkled throughout. As a writer also, this frog was way ahead of his time. Witness this!:
“I would have had to shit blood through my navel to arrive at what I want.”
Such triple barrelled viscera foreshadows Neal Cassady, Terry Southern and Tom Wolfe - once again, in front of the guys who were ahead of the pack!
Tonight's melange is a corporeal conversation between Jacqui Carroll's cerebral cortex, 5 frank men, and the words and spirit of A's 1947 radio performance of the above title, recorded a year before he died. It remained unbroadcast until 1971 due to its sacreligious and scatological content.
Warning: it contains a modicum of nudity and disabled flamenco, which may offend some people, although it is balanced by being another Ozfrank production with a low carbon pawprint!
John Nobbs, Co-Director, Ozfrank- Code: wnhfaq
Watch video of the production
The following are a selection of hints, helpful in understanding just what Tiny Toni (Antonin) achieved in his troubled time. They are taken from an excellent biog by Pommy Sharpie, Stephen Barber- my hedings!.
The Primal Body:
In A's perception, the human body is a wild, flexible but flawed instrument that is still in the process of being forged. The body suffers malicious robberies (by society, family and religion) which leave it fixed and futile, smothered to the point of a terminal incoherence and inexpressivity. Throughout his life, A. worked through ideas and images which explore the explosion of that useless body into a deliriously dancing, new body, with an infinite capacity for self-transformation. The body would become a walking tree of will.
A was a Busy Boy!:
A was not only a writer, he was also a visual artist, a vocal performer, a dancer, a film actor, a theatre actor and director, a traveller, a destroyer of languages. These components of his life cut across each other. Media are stripped of their superficial closure, and open out into each other to produce works of great density and force.
For A, the contents of the unconscious mind could never be applied to political and social arenas without, firstly a drastic anatomical transformation, All his rapports with social and cultural institutions were disrupted by this preoccupying imagery of an individual human body in a process of grinding metamorphosis.In A's writings, culture and nature are amalgamated, crushed and brought down to a zero point. They are subjugated to a physical activity which must be set into movement before any other living structure may exist.
The body comes before the word and before the world. A's view of the fragment - the 'failed' text- as more vital and exploratory than the 'whole' or 'successful' poem. In writing fragments, A articulated his independence from and refusal of the coherent, unified aesthetic object. This intentional failure ensured that they would be banished into the territory of the self which was A's only subject matter.
Words as Space:
In his film script, 'The Butchers Revolt', the primacy of the image broke with 'filmed theatre' which predominated at the time (and which A detested), while stressing the spatial quality of the reinforced sounds which would be employed.'The voices are in SPACE, like objects'. Since, for A, representation works on a temporal level - sound and image repeat themselves to convey themselves - his determination to introduce a spatial rather than a temporal element.
Art as Unfacility Machine:
About the drawings he used to punctuate his exercise-book fragments: each of the drawings was a "machine that is breathing" A. had no regard whatsoever for the technical skill and abilities of an artist. He denounced abstract art as an insincere amalgam of technique and money. And he stressed the savagely unartistic, exploratory nature of his own drawings, which he intended to work at the limits of what could be done with corporeal substances. He wrote: None of them, to speak exactly, is a work, they are all attempts, that is to say blows - probings or thrustings in all the directions of hazard of possibility, of chance, or of destiny.
Transgressing the Transgressors:
Andre Breton would remember the 'impulsion' A exerted on the Surrealist movement to develop a language' stripped of all that could have lent it an ornamental character'-a language that was intended to be 'scathing and glowing, but glowing in the way a weapon glows'.
Soul Bro fo Van Gogh:
Aartaud's idea of 'cruelty': a mode in which one is shocked bodily into an awareness of the undomesticated or the uncanyy. It is as if, suddenly, for the theater the same kind of frenzy and moving violence that he found in the paintings of Van Gogh. He claimed that a new kind of civilization was needed, one that would consummate a break with the sensitivity and the logival mentality of the nineteenth century. Thunderingly he denounced his age for having failed to understand the principal message of Arthur Rimbaud.He wanted to go much further in dramatic experimentation, desiring for the theater the same kind of frenzy and moving violence that he found in the paintings of Van Gogh. He claimed that a new kind of civilization was needed, one that would consummate a break with the sensitivity and the logival mentality of the nineteenth century. Thunderingly he denounced his age for having failed to understand the principal message of Arthur Rimbaud.The theater is not a direct copy of reality; it is of another kind of dangerous reality.
Aswell i'd like to include an essay witten by Glenn Taylor outlining his experiences as his performance deveoped:
THDWTJG is an abstract piece to say the least and for some time difficult to relate to when approaching it from the conventional stagecraft/acting process. The director created an aesthetic and physical vocabulary within which the actor had to 'make sense' of the work. (I don't mean logical sense but a visceral feeling). At the conclusion of the first performance I realised that what I instinctively applied to the process was the idea that the physical (and other sensory) experience of the peformance WAS the narrative. It was an experience quite pure and personal in that I was uninvolved with the other performers' experiences. There was a lot of trust at play, firstly, complete trust in the director's vision for the piece, and as well, letting go of the desire to tell a logical story.
After THDWTJG, the follow up question was: What did that experience do to me? I was quite absorbed in the piece itself, the dynamic between the work and the audience and was also undergoing, during the performances, epiphanies by making connections between snapshots of text combined with music and other sensory feedback from the space.
THDWTJG was significant in that it challenged me to think about the experience of the drama; the real visceral experience which allowed me to achieve real growth as a performer. No longer was the mastery of technical performance skills a yard stick by which success was measured. This points to a paradigm shift which values performance as a transformative and instinctual process witnessed by an audience, rather than a display of a playwright's literary skill or the actor's ability to beguile the audience.