“The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything -- gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness -- rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations. To break through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate the theatre.”- Antonin Artaud
Antonin Artaud was a French poet, actor, playwright and theatrical director who believed strongly that the theatre’s main function was to rid audiences of all the repressive effects of civilization and liberate their instinctual energy. He achieved this by manipulating various theatrical elements such as themes, lighting, sound and movement to shock audiences and assault their senses. Artaud named his theory Theatre of Cruelty and although only one of his plays, Les Cenci, was ever produced in accordance with this theory, his ideas have gone on to influenced avant-garde movements such as the Living Theatre and the Theatre of the Absurd. His ideas have also continued to lend inspiration to film directors. One such director who has obviously taken ideas from Artaud’s work is Vincenzo Natali.
Vincenzo Natali, director of the 1997 mystery thriller ‘Cube’ set out to arouse and awaken the instinctual energy and senses of the audience. He did this successfully by manipulating the dramatic elements of lighting, sound, movement and symbolism. The ‘Cube’ is the frightening, unpredictable story of six strangers, each from a very different walk of life, awakening to find themselves inside a giant cube made up of hundreds of rooms which have the potential to be booby-trapped. Each character has a skill that becomes clear when they must band together to get out of the cube alive.
The dramatic elements and themes used in ‘Cube’ are influenced strongly by the theoretical components of Theatre of Cruelty. For example, the use of sound is a consistent element throughout the film with Natali often relying on sound to...