INDIA / The Theater of Cruelty has just returned from India, where they participated in the 12th International Theater Festival in Kerala. We asked director Lars Øyno to reflect on their performance and experiences.


Located at the very top of the amphitheater near the light table with 1200 spectators on the rows down towards the stage, I consider my own acting. The theater is half open, only roof over stage and amphitheater, dark outside, street sounds. 20 minutes pass. People start walking – after 45 minutes, 200 people have left the hall. The remaining 1000 are left at the end. Applause and reception of the festival plank, a few words from the director to the festival management with thanks for the invitation and presentation of the actors. A comment to the audience with thanks for endurance, which is returned with a little laugh and applause.

Arthur Rimbaud

What happens on stage for 1 hour and 45 minutes, during the performance I am another to dictate Arthur Rimbaud i Africa? Why do parts of the audience disappear?

Soon all the madness turns out in full bloom.

Cultural differences contribute to part of the answer. India has a lot to do with it. People are affected by it – and are seeking the light. Our notion of Rimbaud is about despair and downfall – the light outside the picture. The story we tell describes the migrant, the poet who gives up his career, leaves his friends, his family, his home and country in favor of a demanding life as a trader in Ethiopia og Yemen. The goal was a conversion.

Objectively considered, this is a distinctive theater piece, a rare cultural experience in the East as in the West. The culture is dictated by outside analysts, who measure and weigh it all in relation to the prevailing and necessary commercial context. Very few original works are created under such conditions. Artistic projects detached from capital interests and general conformism are virtually non-existent.

Then the question arises: Have art any sense if it is not freed from the automatism that characterizes the animal? Here we have to define what we mean by art – the very undefined by a creative process. The creative is a craftsman for something undefined.

The real poet reaches the unknown, Rimbaud says in his famous letter to Paul Demeny And the journey is conditioned by the disturbance of all the senses. Pure poetry causes confusion.

Edgar Allan Poe

Art is anarchistic in its essence, its task is to destroy one selfish worldview. With the self-centeredness of the individual, it is possible to implement a nationalist policy. Only the completely indefinable art expression, the alienated soul will be able to move, in the sense of changing – reshaping man, both mentally and physically.

The American poet Edgar Allan Poe sees rhythm and composition as necessary to develop the idea of ​​beauty. What happens on stage in India is that the rhythm begins to dissolve familiar vocabulary. The whole structure, the composition, becomes infected, and soon the whole madness blossoms. The heart may be appalled at what it feels, while the spirit may rejoice at the understanding it encounters. This also applies to Norway – or in Iran, England and Tokyo, where the performance has also been shown. Yes, difficult theatrical art is linked to science. As Poe describes it, the effect is calculated through studies of composition and rhythm. The understood rhythm, the rhythm that has been diligently and maliciously obtained for the sole purpose of destroying all definitions of concepts and leading man to a point of view where he alone can define life.

Art is like heroin. With the help of the dream I can rediscover the idea of ​​a divine theater. Just as the sick also dreams. Art is disease.

Antonin Artaud

From previous guest appearances in India, I know that the company's physical stage language communicates to some degree. The inspiration of the Theater of Cruelty also comes from Asia through the European modernist Artaud. Indian audiences recognize the metaphysical actor's metier. But where the traditional dance theater highlights its myths through a scenic language based on signs and not on words, we use precisely the sense of such techniques to apply as a critique of civilization. The form perspective is shifted and alienated from the Asian audience, just as the expression seems brutal and alienating to a Western audience.

It's a lonely road to walk Theater, but at the end of the performance I find to my delight that the hall is not empty of people. "You are not alone."

The International Theater Festival in Kerala

Theme for the festival: The connections between art and society, migration, alienation and national borders – when you are a refugee and when you have national status.
Subscription NOK 195 quarter