Masterpieces of the past are good for the past: they are not good for us. We have the right to say what has been said and even what has not been said in a way that belongs to us, a way that is immediate and direct, corresponding to present moes of feeling and understandable to everyone. If the public does not frequent our literary masterpieces, it is because those masterpieces are literary, that is to say, fixed; and fixed in forms that no longer respond to the needs of the time. 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.
I read a little bit of Antonin Artaud’s The Theatre and Its Double last night. Artaud was a French theatre practioner who was eventually committed to an asylum in the 1940s and died two years after being released. He proposes that theatre should be like the plauge – it should cause a build up or rupturing of disease and purge the human experience – a form of theatre he dubbed Theatre of Cruelty. Here is an excerpt from his essay No More Mastepieces: