Antonin Artaud was born on September 4, 1896 in Marseille, France. He became a remarkable poet, dramatist, and actor. His theories and work influenced the development of experimental theater. He was the founder of the Theatre of Cruelty in the 20's.
Artaud worked as an actor and assistant director in the theatre and the cinema. He was a member of Surrealist movement and published poetry regularly. The Surrealists finally disowned him, yet he continued to write about his theories of theatre. Many of his essays were collected in 'Le Theatre et son Double' (1936).
Artaud wanted to restore myth and mystery to the theatre, explore imagination and produce a dreamlike state on stage. He spoke of using repetition, rhythm and minimal language in order to shock his audiences so much, that they would not dare commit the atrocities they witnessed on stage. He sought to bring back an instinctual element to theatre, being cruel to his actors on stage.
His mental balance was always precarious and he was confined to an asylum from 1937-1946.
Artaud died on March 4, 1948 in Ivry-sur-Seine.
He realized little success in his lifetime, but many of his theories are now being re-examined in France and England.