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Twelve of the Fifty-One Shocks of Antonin Artaud

  • Nigel Ward

In ‘Artaud at Rodez’, published in the sixth issue of the original Theatre Quarterly, Charles Marowitz pursued an investigation into the nature of the alleged madness of Antonin Artaud, for which he was confined during the Second World War – eventually being transferred to the asylum at Rodez where he was subjected to electric shock ‘therapy’. Marowitz's article, which later formed the basis for his play of the same title, explored the motivations and responses of those involved: here, Nigel Ward focuses rather on the nature and effects of the treatment itself, inflicted on Artaud no less than fifty-one times – a treatment which, however controversial, was ironically appropriate for the creator of a ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ which itself claimed to purge its audience of weaknesses and to heal through shock. Nigel Ward is a tutor on the MA in Performance Studies course at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

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Notes and References

1. Artaud, Antonin, Oeuvres Complètes, I-XXVI, ed. Thévenin, Paule (Paris, 1956–), Vol. XIII, p. 103.

2. Artaud, Antonin, The Theatre and its Double (London, 1977), p. 60.

3. Ferdière, Gaston, cit. de Mèredieu, Florence, Sur l'electroshock: le cas Antonin Artaud (Paris, 1996), p. 115–16.

4. Artaud, The Theatre and its Double, p. 21.

5. Ibid., p. 22.

6. Ibid., p. 22.

7. Ibid., p. 16.

8. Artaud, Antonin, L'Arve et l'aume suivi de 24 letters à Marc Barbezat (Décines, 1989), p. 7.

9. Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and its Double, p. 60.

10. Jacques Latrémolière, cit. Florence de Mèredieu, Sur l'electroshock: le cas Antonin Artaud, p. 106–7.

11. Duqueker, Jean, cit. Barber, Stephen, Antonin Artaud: Blows and Bombs (London, 1993), p. 115.

12. Antonin Artaud, The Theatre and its Double, p. 89.

13. Antonin Artaud, cit. Stephen Barber, op. cit., p. 102.

14. Antonin Artaud, Oeuvres Complètes, XXVI, p. 123.

15. R. D. Laing, cit. John Clay, R. D. Laing: a Divided Self, p. 48.

16. Antonin Artaud, cit. John Clay, op. cit., p. 30.

17. Artaud, Antonin, Artaud Anthology, ed. Hirschmann, Jack (San Francisco, 1965), p. 139.

18. Antonin Artaud, cit. Stephen Barber, op. cit., p. 160.

19. Isou, Isidore, Antonin Artaud torturé par les psychiatres (Paris, 1970), p. 141.

20. Artaud, Antonin, Nouveaux écrits de Rodez (Paris, 1977), p. 40.

21. Antonin Artaud, cit. Stephen Barber, op. cit., p. 160.

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New Theatre Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0266-464X
  • EISSN: 1474-0613
  • URL: /core/journals/new-theatre-quarterly
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