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Abstract

This article uses Bataille’s concept of the void to illuminate “Tete-a-tete avec Antonin Artaud,” or an intimate conversation with the French poet that occurred on the night on January 13, 1947. From nine until midnight, Artaud sat on stage at the Theatre Vieux Colombier in Paris and proceeded with a largely unrehearsed lecture. He read poems, described his previous trips to Mexico and Ireland, and gave a vivid and grotesque account of the nine years he spent suffering in insane asylums. Through his exaggerated gestures, his gaunt appearance, his unsensical poems, frightening shrieks and prolonged silences, Artaud creates a heightened state of anguish within the Vieux Colombier that brings him and the audience to the realm of nonknowledge by creating a break within the understood notions of performance. Audience members are left with no prescribed reaction. Artaud creates the depths of nonknowledge within the theater and forces himself and his audience into the surging void.

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