Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Messy, rambling pile of good ideas
on 3 December 2007
Although true you will probably find this book largely incomprehensible to begin with, as a piece of philosophy of theatre it is actually really quite good. This is a book for enthusiasts, able readers and people who don't mind having to really think about what they are coming in contact with. Artuad's ideas are really quite 'lofty', if you know what i mean, and some have claimed they are impossible to put into practice (although I am not so sure). To really crack Artaud you need someone else to discuss it with and both of you need to have a sound point of reference; you need to know drama. If you do however, you'll find the discussions that revolve around this book throughly enjoyable and the ideas that it will bring about you should find actually pertinent to practical drama work.
Some sections are better than others, but i strongly recommend chapter 2 ('Metaphysics and the Mise En Scene") because its fantastic. I say this because during my A-level Drama course I found this section immensely important in my understanding of the subject and our group utilised several elements of the theory in our own production. As I understand it, in this chapter Artuad makes the argument that modern theatre is tyrannised by dialogue and the written word, at the expense of all the theatrics of the stage, which actually limits the potential emotional impact of the piece. For Artaud the stage is a concrete physical place which needs to be filled with its own concrete physical language, not simply that of words. Artaud seems to feel the purpose of theatre is to induce a massive emotional impact on the audience member which is their source of meaning, not prepared meaning in dialogue. This should give you an idea of the complexity, but at the same time quality, of Artauds ideas.
I give the book 4 stars because, although some might give it 5 for its great ideas, it is really quite unaccessible and some parts are arguably much less useful than others.