Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date



Antonin Artaud, author of the famous "The Theatre and Its Double" and the concept of Theatre of Cruelty, arrived in Mexico in 1936 with the intent of revising the paradigm of Western theatre by emphasizing its strong connection with life forces. Artaud considered theatre to be a spiritual and healing practice for both the performer and the audience while creating a shift in consciousness. His journey took him to the land of the Tarahumara Indians in the Sierra Madre, where he participated in the annual sacred Peyotl ceremony conducted by powerful shamans. Artaud's ethno-poetic account of their cosmology confirmed his visionary statements on theater. Alongside contemporary anthropology and indigenous spirituality, the artist believed in shaping identity via ritual performances. His narratives reaffirm his earlier opinions of man's position in the universe and his call for a change of consciousness which could occur, in his opinion, through theatrical performance. While most scholars considered his provocative artistic project to be madness, I argue that Artaud's avant-garde political and artistic opinions align with the politics of modern anthropology and performance, which draw conclusions from experience, participation and from mere observation. His memory of the Tarahumara rituals inspired multiple ethno-poetical narratives and an understanding of the human drama that he explored until his death twelve years later. His poetics invite his readers to have a sensory perception of the work and to embrace the magical time of the ritual. My dissertation topic deals with the literary aspects of Artaud's textuality on Tarahumara dance rituals. My research explores the theatrical elements of Artaud's poetic language in "Tutuguri, The Rite of the Dark Sun," a poem he created for a radio play 'To Have Done with the Judgment of God. In my conclusions, I argue that the author performs his poetry like a ritual; in other words, he uses language in a performative manner, and the page functions like a scene of writing where physical senses and movements are greatly emphasized. I argue that his writing is similar to a ritualized performance where gestures and sounds accompany words like an incantation. Based on their myth of creation, the Tutuguri is a rite of prayers and requests where natives accompany the sun in its course until dawn. In conclusion, the poem suggests that human identity is defined by its mobility and circularity.


Antonin Artaud, Tutuguri, Tarahumaras, Performance

Document Type




Degree Name

French Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Putnam, Walter

First Committee Member (Chair)

Cheek, Pamela

Second Committee Member

Peters-Newell, Marina

Third Committee Member

Chazin-Bennahum, Judith