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Antonin Artaud

Antoine Marie Joseph Paul Artaud (1896 - 1948) was a French writer, actor and theater theorist. At the age of 14, he published his first poems in a school magazine under the pseudonym Louis de Attides and performed self-written theater scenes. In 1920 he went to Paris, where he worked as a theater actor and developed a great passion for the stage in Charles Dullin's Théâtre de l′Atelier theater group. He turns to the Surrealists and is briefly part of the group around André Breton and works as a writer. He publishes numerous books and gets a wide variety of roles in films. After a few years, he distanced himself from the Surrealists and founded the Théâtre Alfred Jarry together with Roger Vitrac and Robert Aron, which, two years later, had to close due to financial, content-related and interpersonal difficulties. His intense work as a writer produces, among others, theoretical works such as The Balinese Theater and, his most famous work, Theater of Cruelty and The Theater and the Plague, all of which he publishes in the early 1930s.

After further failures on the stage, he stays in Mexico for over a year, where he comes into contact with indigenous peoples. Back in Europe, he goes to Ireland, engages in spirituality and astrology, but is brought back to Paris a short time later, ill and mentally disturbed. Artaud had contracted meningitis at the age of five and suffered the consequences ever since. He was addicted to narcotics and suffered from mental disorders. In Paris he is permanently under medical treatment, works in the meantime literary and can spread his theater of cruelty in public. He dies in 1948 in the hospital of Ivry.


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