The dramatic theatre's spectator says: Yes, I have felt like that too – Just like me - it’s only natural – it’ll never change – the sufferings of this man appal me, because they are inescapable – that’s great art; it all seems the most obvious thing in the world – I weep when they weep, I laugh when they laugh.
The epic theatre's spectator says: I’d never have thought of it – that’s not the way – that’s extraordinary, hardly believable – it’s got to stop – the sufferings of this man appal me, because they are unnecessary – that’s great art: nothing obvious in it – I laugh when they weep, I weep when they laugh.
Bertold Brecht (translation John Willett)
Theatre of Cruelty means a theatre difficult and cruel for myself first of all. And, on the level of performance, it is not the cruelty we can exercise upon each other by hacking at each other’s bodies, carving up our personal anatomies, or, like Assyrian emperors, sending parcels of human ears, noses, or neatly detached nostrils through the mail, but the much more terrible and necessary cruelty which things can exercise against us. We are not free. And the sky can still fall on our heads. And the theatre has been created to teach us that first of all.
Antonin Artaud (translation Mary Caroline Richards)