The Theatre and its Double

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The Theatre and Its Double (Le Théâtre et son Double) is a collection of essays by French poet and playwright Antonin Artaud. It contains his most famous works on the theatre, including his manifestos for a Theatre of Cruelty.

Composition and Publication History[edit]

The Theatre and its Double was originally published 7 February 1938 as part of Gallimard's Métamorpheses Collection.The books consists of Artaud's collected essays on theatre dating from the early thirties, many of which were published in Nouvelle Revue Française (NRF). Artaud was 'confined in Saint-Anne Mental hospital' when the book was published, though he had been able to correct the text's proofs between his journeys to Ireland and Mexico.[1]: 104

Chronological Release[edit]

'On the Balinese Theatre' (1931)[edit]

Part 1 was published as 'The Balinese Theatre at the Colonial Exhibition' in NRF (no. 217, Oct. 1931).[1]: 106

'Production and Metaphysics' (1932)[edit]

Originally presented as a lecture at the Sorbonne (10 Dec 1932). Published in NRF (no. 221, 1st Feb. 1932).[1]: 105

'Alchemist Theatre'/'El teatro alquemico' (1932)[edit]

Published in Spanish in the Buenos Aires based magazine Sur (no. 6, Sept. 1932).[1]: 106

'The Theatre of Cruelty' (1932)[edit]

Published in NRF (no. 229, 1st Oct. 1932).[1]: 105

'Second Manifesto of The Theatre of Cruelty' (1932)[edit]

Originally published as a sixteen-page booklet by Éditions Denoël (Fontenay-Au-Roses, 1933).[1]: 111

'Theatre and the Plague' (1933)[edit]

Originally presented as a lecture at the Sorbonne (6 April 1933), it was revised and published in NRF (no. 253, 1st Oct. 1934).[1]: 105


Artaud intended his work as an attack on theatrical convention and the importance of language of drama, opposing the vitality of the viewer's sensual experience against theatre as a contrived literary form, and urgency of expression against complacency on the part of the audience.[citation needed]

In No More Masterpieces, Artaud attacks what believed to be the elitism of an irrelevant, outdated literary/theatrical canon, and , where Artaud expressed the importance of recovering "the notion of a kind of unique language half-way between gesture and thought".[citation needed]


The collection is still read, and strongly influenced the directing philosophies of such renowned figures as Peter Brook, The Living Theatre and La Mama's Great Jones Repertory Company, most notably in their production of The Trojan Women directed by Andrei Serban and composed by Elizabeth Swados.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The Theatre and Its Double (Calder Publications) eBook: Antonin Artaud, Victor Corti: Kindle Store". Retrieved 2019-10-26.