The Theatre and the Plague | Antonin Artaud
a project by John Romão in collaboration with Salomé Lamas

On April 6, 1933, under the invitation of René Allendy, Antonin Artaud offered the audience of the Sorbonne a lecture with the strange title “The Theater and the Plague”. No one expected the show that was about to happen. The only existing documentation is in Anaïs Nin’s “Journal”:  “But no word could describe what Artaud acted out on the platform of the Sorbonne. He forgot about his conference, the theatre, his ideas, Dr. Allendy sitting there, the public, the young students, his wife, professors, and directors. His face was contorted with anguish, one could see the perspiration dampening his hair. His eyes dilated, his muscles became cramped, his fingers struggled to retain their flexibility. He made one feel the parched and burning throat, the pains, the fever, the fire in the guts. He was in agony. He was screaming. He was delirious. He was enacting his own death, his own crucifixion. At first people gasped. And then they began to laugh. Everyone was laughing! They hissed. Then, one by one, they began to leave, noisily, talking, protesting. They banged the door as they left. (…) More jeering. But Artaud went on, until the last gasp. And stayed on the floor. (…) He was in anger: “They want to hear an objective lecture on ‘The Theater and the Plague’ and I want to give them the very experience, the very plague, to be terrified and wake up. wake them up. They don’t understand that they are dead. Their death is total, like deafness, blindness. It is the agony that I have shown. Mine yes, and that of all those who live.
On Abril 2020, during the mandatory confinement, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the theaters are empty. John Romão and Salomé Lamas direct the reenactement of the conference “The Theater and the Plague” by Antonin Artaud in 5 different empty theatres, with 5 different actors, proposing a geographical expansion of the “virus”.

Online broadcast
Since August 7th, 9pm (West)
With: Mónica Calle (actress) and Francisco Frazão (artistic director of TBA)

Text: Antonin Artaud
Translation: Aníbal Fernandes e John Romão
Concept: John Romão
Direction: John Romão e Salomé Lamas
With: Albano Jerónimo e Lídia Fernandes (Teatro Romano), Cucha Carvalheiro e Aida Tavares (São Luiz Teatro Municipal), Mónica Calle e Francisco Frazão (Teatro do Bairro Alto), Igor Regalla e Susana Menezes (LU.CA), John Romão e Patrícia Portela (Teatro Viriato)
Photography direction: Miguel Nabinho
Image Assistant: João Martinho
Sound direction: Miguel Martins
Montage: Francisco Moreira
Music: Gabriel Ferrandini
Graphisms: Diogo Dias João
Image and equipment studio: Screen
Sound and equipment studio: McFly
Press: Helena César
Photographic documentation: Bruno Simão
Production: BoCA
Executive production: John Romão e Salomé Lamas
Coproduction: EGEAC, Teatro Viriato
Partnership: São Luiz Teatro Municipal, Teatro Romano, Teatro do Bairro Alto, LU.CA – Teatro Luís de Camões
Media Partners  Antena 1, Antena 2
Thanks to Aníbal Fernandes, Joana Gomes Cardoso, Jonas Omberg

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