[Artaud: director interview and Plague rehearsal]

This tape documents the preparation for the joint Videopolis / Victory Gardens Theater production of "Artaud." Director Jim Rinnert talks about his interest in Artaud and the unusual production elements. This is followed by rehearsal footage from the play where lead actor J. Pat Miller practices a scene called "Plague."

00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with static.

00:16Copy video clip URL “Artaud” director Jim Rinnert talks about his interest in Artaud’s theory of the “theater of cruelty” and its impact on modern day avant garde theater. “I feel that what we know in society is defined not just by the central core of conformity but by those people who live on its peripheral edges and who sort of shape the direction, the new directions that society takes. Artaud was definitely one of those people. He lived just beyond the fringes and sent back notes about what was going on out there in his world. His work was very fragmentary. Our goal is to provide an experience of Artaud by presenting some of those fragrments in a context of his life, in a context of the theater experience.”

02:31Copy video clip URL Rinnert describes the multifaceted components of the “Artaud” project. The first phase of the project is the live theater performance itself, which will be composed of an actor onstage with several video monitors playing pre-recorded components of the play. The second is a videotape of the actual performance plusĀ  a panel discussion by scholars, which will be distributed to universities. The third phase (not mentioned on this tape but described in another tape) is a process videotape documenting the rehearsals and preparations for the project.

03:48Copy video clip URL Lead actor J. Pat Miller performs a “Plague Rehearsal.” He stands in front of a large chalk board and reads Artaud’s writings from a piece of paper. He talks about a dream an official of Sardinia had about a plague outbreak. “He saw himself infected by the plague; he dreamed was ravaging his tiny state. Beneath such a scourge, all social forms disintegrate.” Miller continues to read aloud the monologue and Korsts gathers numerous close up shots of Miller. He goes on to talk about the physical effects of the plague. “Before the onset of any physical or mental discomfort, the body is covered with red spots, which the victim notices and they suddenly turn black.” Miller talks about the plague as it ravages the human body, thrashing his own body back and forth before taking a long pause to continue on with the description. He goes on to say that in this moment, the theater is born, and compares it to the carnage of the plague. “It releases conflicts. It liberates possibilities that if these powers and possibilities are dark, it is not the fault of the plague nor of the theater but of life.” This lasts for several minutes.

10:58Copy video clip URL Miller goes on to compare the theater to the plague in more detail, becoming more visibly angry in his performance, staring directly into the camera and clenching his fists. He then walks towards the door of the classroom.

12:14Copy video clip URL Korsts captures Miller as he opens the door to the classroom. He slowly makes his way inside, making an attempt to regain his composure. He then refers back to his script and begins to talk about the plague outbreak in Sardinia in April of 1720. He goes through the same monologue once again. Korsts gathers different shots. This lasts for several minutes.

21:28Copy video clip URL Miller once again runs through the plague monologue. This lasts for the remainder of the tape.

32:29Copy video clip URL Tape ends.


1 Comment

  1. joe straka says:

    Stumbled across this by accident. Was not prepared for the onslaught of tears to follow. So amazing to see both Jims again and so glad this was preserved.

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