The plague is a theatrical ritual invented as a scene by the Living Theatre. It is an exercise as well as a
perfomance. Antonin Artaud gave the idea to it.
Antonin Artaud, (1896-1948) was an expressionist poet and playwright. In his Theatre of Cruelty he
developed a critic of western theatre as representational art. According to Artaud the actor has to act
sincerly, he has to burn on stage. No lies, no pretensions but true soul play as a rebellion against the
lovelessness of the world.
When Judith Malina and Julian Beck discovered Artaud`s writings they found in his work and his
understanding of theatre what they had been looking for: the expression of true feelings, of pain, of cruelty.
Theatre as a purge. No fancying up, no exciting effects. No psychologization, no constructions but the
enactment of a feeling that you may have felt some times before and express it with art. Artaud’s theory
became fundamental for the work of the Living Theatre. The plague is a concret scenic expression of it.
“It must be art,
it must be real,
it can’t be real (no blood),
it must be political,
it must be spectacle
it must be as eloquent as text itself not subservient. Nothing subservient, Anarchy. Theatre of cruelty
without political objective/social action becomes its opposite, seduction to sadism.”
Julian Beck, Theandric