Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date



Visual and Performing Arts, College of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Al-Shamma

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Antonin Artaud, a radical theatre artist working during the first half of the 20thcentury, developed a style and philosophy of storytelling called the Theatre of Cruelty. Artaud wanted to shock his audiences into an emotional connection with the people and situations around them. Hoping to shake the audience out of their complacency by combating realism, Artaud envisioned performances that would eliminate the fourth wall and confront the audience directly. Two contemporary theatre companies, the Wooster Group and Punchdrunk,adapt Artaud’s ideas to modern storytelling practices. The Wooster Group incorporates technological advances in its jarring, innovative performances, and Punchdrunk creates immersive and occasionally interactive experiences. Both companies embrace the concepts of Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty and strive to break down the fourth wall to reach their audiences and build deeper connections between audience, actor, and content.