The Artaud Project

Video recording of The Artaud Project at Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago, January 25, 1980. The performance combined a live performance with an actor playing Antonin Artaud with several monitors displaying other footage. Many readings of Artaud's work are incorporated.

0:00Copy video clip URL Opens on a dark theater. Title comes up reading “The Artaud Project.”

0:32Copy video clip URL A shot of a screen showing an extreme close up of a man’s mouth. It begins speaking about his flesh and soul. The on-screen image zooms out to reveal Antonin Artaud (played by J. Pat Miller), and his monologue continues.

4:09Copy video clip URL The camera zooms out from the screen and reveals a scene on stage. Artaud enters through a door, hangs up a coat, and begins another monologue.

5:15Copy video clip URL Zoom back in on the screen. Another man writes a letter while reading it aloud, explaining that he cannot publish the man’s poems though he found them “sufficiently interesting to want to make the acquaintance of their author.”

6:47Copy video clip URL Back on stage Artaud frets over his poetry and how to express his thoughts, and whether his poems are good enough. The show alternates between the poet at the editor on screen.

9:43Copy video clip URL Artaud begins applying makeup and talking about acting, and its connection with movement. He is assisted in putting on a costume.

11:52Copy video clip URL Once dressed, he starts an impassioned monologue concerning evil.

14:27Copy video clip URL The stage goes black, and some audience members applaud. Another on-screen scene begins. In it, Artaud is again applying makeup while talking to a woman about their relationship and his fear that it is has been something of a facade. The woman replies that she “cannot love humanly and imaginatively at the same time.” They continue to surmise about humanity and emotion.

20:41Copy video clip URL Cut to Artaud on stage as he comments on the happenings on screen. Cut back to the scene on screen where Artaud is trying to further seduce the woman. She makes an excuse to leave and meet her father, provoking Artaud to criticize her relationship with her father and accuse her of never loving him.

22:37Copy video clip URL Cut to black. Fade in, still on screen, to a new scene in Paris. The camera then zooms out from the screen to take in both the man on screen and the man on stage. They talk simultaneously, delivering the same lines but not in tandem.

26:40Copy video clip URL On stage, Artaud spasms and falls to the floor. He convulses, removing his shirt and screaming while, on screen, Artaud continues to speak.

28:43Copy video clip URL The camera focuses on the screen, where Artaud is talking about the birth of theater and comparing it to the plague. “It causes men to see them as they are.”

30:58Copy video clip URL The on screen speech ends, and the film cuts to Artaud on stage, cleaning himself off and talking about the meaning of words. He addresses the audience directly about the configuration of the mind and speech.

34:44Copy video clip URL The lights go out, then he is illuminated by a faint blue light. A voice speaks from above about the symbols of fire and air.

36:08Copy video clip URL A trio of three screens show distorted images of Artaud. The camera focuses in on the middle screen as images blur and fade.

38:17Copy video clip URL He talks about earth, air, fire, and water, then draws tarot cards and reads them out to the audience. He talks about male-female relations, and the destruction of Earth by fire.

42:15Copy video clip URL He pulls out a staff, and describes its attributes and his journey to return it to its place.

43:54Copy video clip URL Another on-screen scene. Artaud talks manically about the cane and its owners, Lucifer and Jesus. He then talks about his realization that he is a mad man, while a second screen shows him being fed by an unseen person.

47:39Copy video clip URL On stage, he continues screaming, and bangs frantically against a door. He is outfitted with a straight jacket. A red light illuminates him, and a voice speaks from above.

49:45Copy video clip URL Three screens show three different scenes while a voice continues to speak. The camera zooms in on one of the screens, where Artaud has a sock stuffed into his mouth and receives shock treatment.

52:33Copy video clip URL Screen goes black. Cut to Artaud in the straight jacket on stage, bathed in red light. He asserts that he is not insane, he is a fanatic, and society doesn’t want to hear what he has to say.

53:54Copy video clip URL The lights go up and the audience applauds. He is now free from the straight jacket, and stands before the audience talking about man’s choice to shit.

57:22Copy video clip URL Artaud exits, and an on screen scene is shown of him recording another monologue. He speaks of artificial insemination and war. Two men come in, take the mic away, and lead Artaud out of the recording booth. Artaud continues to talk anyway.

1:02:37Copy video clip URL Screen and stage go black. Sounds of shifting set pieces.

1:03:39Copy video clip URL Lights go up on stage. Artaud enters from the door and hangs up his jacket. He sits at a desk facing the audience, makes himself a drink, and begins to write a letter about his extreme sadness. He explains his frustration with radio, and vows to devote himself to the theater, “the genesis of creation.” Above him a screen shows another scene of Artaud writing a letter, getting up from the desk, and going to the bathroom.

1:08:50Copy video clip URL On stage, Artaud gets up from the desk and goes to the bathroom. On the toilet, he laments about his family and his ailing body.

1:14:23Copy video clip URL He finishes getting undressed, stands, and sits at the edge of his bed. A voice questions his personal identity. The stage lights fade to black, and the audience begins to applaud.

1:16:34Copy video clip URL Miller reenters the stage with a robe, and end credits roll.

1:18:33Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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