Willow Lake Press
The following are original music compositions. All opinions and interpretations expressed here are entirely the composer's. Copyrights are held by the respective composer.
By Gregory Springer © 1992-97

Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) was one of the most creative and innovative influences on theatre during the twentieth century. His years of work and madness culminated in twenty-eight written volumes. He is now officially recognized as a "Great French Author" by his native country.

For best enjoyment load and play each movement while reading the text. Sound quality varies on different computers. Thank you for your interest and support.

1st movement - "Artaud meets Artaud"
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History: Paris - 1920. Artaud begins to understand and communicate his psychic struggles. He is currently under the care of physicians to manage the incurable head pains he has experienced since his childhood trauma of spinal meningitis.

The theatre reveals itself as a vehicle to express his emotions. He creates the "Theatre of Cruelty." Artaud immerses himself in theatre, film and writing. His innovations stem from his own inability to verbally communicate his thoughts. He sees theatre as a separate reality and the dual nature of human existence
Interpretation: "Modern" art is in full flourish. All art is suddenly new and different. Igor Stravinski composes "The Rite of Spring" in Russia, Marcel DuChamp assembles the "Armory Art Exhibition" of expressionism in New York and Artaud begins his experiments in the theatres of Paris.

The 1st movement begins with an interpretation of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" heralding Artaud's blossom to creation. The pain in his head begins and recedes in a collection of dissonant pulsations.

Slowly he plods forward developing his craft. With great difficulty he begins to express his ideas to other performers and playwrights. There are moments of curious fantasy followed by crushing depression.

The dual human nature Artaud explores, the dark and light "Double", are heard at the end. Claves beat a steady rhythm: two strikes on-beat and the mirror pattern, it's double, two strikes off-beat.

2nd movement - "Bali Afternoon"
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History: Balinese Theatre exposition - 1931. The Asian emphasis on the sacred nature of theatre leads Artaud to a performance of actors from Bali. The performers' exaggerated eye and geometric body movements excites him.

After the performance, Artaud walks through the sunny Parisian afternoon imagining himself a heroic Balinese theatre artist. He is inspired to create the radical theory "Theatre of Pain" and write his ideas in his seminal work, "The Theatre and It's Double."
Interpretation: Artaud is enraptured by the Balinese performance. He watches as the dancers collect the separate music and movement and entwine them into one. The afternoon passes as Artaud creates new and untried versions in his head.

The imagined performance is now playing in his theatre as his players dance their physically demanding roles. The patterns have the same Bali texture, but are now pressed onto a European frame. Suddenly his ideas come together and are complete. He will be lauded as the hero of France.

Elated, he walks with the warm afternoon sun on his face. He is smiling. Now he must quickly return to his studio and write all this down before an episode strikes.

The drums are very insistent. They are growing louder in his head. He must hurry now. The Bali drums are ringing in his head. He looks around. No one else hears the drums. No one else will know of his triumph. He must hurry. And they are growing louder and louder and louder. . .

3rd movement - "Paris"
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History: Outside of Paris - 1948. Artaud has been confined to a mental asylum for the past nine years in the small town of Rodez, France.

When the Paris theatre on which he placed so much hope fails to recognize his work, Artaud begins a search for the mystical. He pursues seances, writes bizarre poetry, takes hallucinogens with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and is finally institutionalized in Rodez.

Upon reviving from medical electroshock Doctor Gaston Ferdiere, Artaud's physician, would ask him a seemingly simple question, "Do you know who you are?" Artaud knows exactly his own name and history, but the doctor's question and it's philosophical implications fills him with madness.

Interpretation: Artaud is dreaming of fluffy Matisse clouds; of playful Debussy rhythms. He is content and comfortable and happy. He hears a disturbing and insistent tattoo of wheels as they thump across floor tiles. His eyes slowly open.

To his horror he realizes he is strapped to a hospital gurney on his way to another electroshock treatment. Lights and hanging signs flash past his vision. Faces are blurred by gathering speed and his own tears. No more grand illusions. No more pursuing greatness. No more being rejected by the "Arts."

The treatment begins. Artaud's ideas fold in on themselves. His elliptical theories return from their arcing path. He comes back to the beginning. The dual human nature. The dark and the light. The "Double".

At the end generators begin to rev, there is a hushed quiet, then we hear Artaud's last ride on the lightning. Again, and finally, claves beat a steady rhythm: two strikes on-beat and the mirror pattern, it's double, two strikes off-beat.

This composition was inspired by the Michael David Fox production, "Artaud: Through the Flames." Special thanks to Gary San Angel for his creative Balinese choreography.
Reference Material:

Artaud, Antonine, "Theatre and It's Double", trans. Mary Caroline Richards. New York, Grove Press, 1958.

Fox, Michael David, "Artaud: through the Flames", University of California Irvine.

Garber, Jeremy, "Antonin Artaud: The Actor As Conduit", http://www.goshen.edu/personal/jeremyg/artaud.html.

Stravinski, Igor, "The Rite of Spring", Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg, Boston Symphony Orchestra - Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor.

Music compositions from the following plays are coming soon:
"The Tell Tale Heart"
By Edgar Allen Poe, Adapted for stage by Weston Taussig
An innovative retelling of Poe's classic story of the macabre.
Performances: December 4-9, 1992.

"Artaud: through the Flames"
Written and Directed by Michael David Fox
Original play about the life and work of modern French playwright Antonine Artaud.
Performances, May 21-23, 1992.

"Unseen Hand"
Written and Directed by Michael A. Mufson
A performance art piece at the "Some Total: 16th Annual Art Performance."
Performance: April 24, 1992.

"Alice in Wonderland"
By Lewis Carroll, Restored and Directed by Stephen M. Burdman
The play take a dark look at Alice's journey.
Performances: March 13-14, 1992

"Ms. Anthrope"
Adapter and Directed by Michael A. Mufson from Molier's "The Misanthrope"
A whimsical play about the Salon Society of 17th century France.
Performances: December 5-7, 1991
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