Bear-Baiting and the Theatre of Cruelty

  • Amanda Di Ponio
Part of the Avant-Gardes in Performance book series (AGP)


Di Ponio analyses bear-baiting to establish a visual and spectacular early modern Theatre of Cruelty. This double of the Elizabethan theatre—non-linguistic and gestural—featured real blood and suffering, neither stylized nor representational. However, bear-baiting, as Artaud would have understood it—an existential crisis of confrontation where unseen forces inflict cruelty, thereby challenging one’s freedom and agency—is also addressed in this chapter. The shift between these viewpoints prompts interplay between the early modern theatre, the bear-baiting pit, and Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty in order to reveal the cultural ambivalence of this arena.


Antonin Artaud Bear-baiting Theatre of Cruelty Early modern theatre 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda Di Ponio
    • 1
  1. 1.Huron University CollegeLondonCanada

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