Salvador text Andre Breton Man Ray

Surrealism-Plays is a site devoted to the history and creative works of the Surrealist Movement, as well as the anti-tradition of avant-garde theatre.



COMMENTARY


(For those interested in sharing their thoughts concerning Surrealism and/or Avant-Garde Theatre, Surrealism-Plays welcomes submissions via the contact page.)



WHAT DOES SURREALISM MEAN TO YOU?

For me, Surrealism is about two things: Liberation and Exploration.

Explore, with complete freedom, the far reaches of one's imagination, dreams and desires. Question. Experiment. Create. Collaborate. Explore what is hidden in the shadows of the subconscious. Explore the irrational, the mysterious and the spontaneous. Lift stones and investigate whole worlds of life that exist, underneath the surface, where the average person rarely takes the time to look. Celebrate the marvelous elements of everyday life. Notice the clouds in the sky. Notice the enormity of our Universe. Notice the peeling paint on a wall and how it somehow resembles a magnificent, abstract work of art. Notice the display inside a shop window and how the figures and arrangement, when looked at through fresh eyes, form a mysterious image, like a painting by De Chirico. Transform everyday objects into works of art. Spend each day as if it is your first twenty-four hours on earth, as if you are seeing everything for the first time. Take a walk, or drive, or train ride, with no plan or schedule. Wherever life leads you, absorb, discover and celebrate. Delve deep. Reach far. Try to touch the very core of one's self, in its purest form, the way it was at the moment of birth - raw, primal and innocent - unaffected by the external world and its influences. Explore!

Liberate one's self from any tradition that oppresses the freedom of the individual. Question everything! If organized religion has taught you to repress your primal dreams and desires, and to feel shame and fear - discard it as if it is the plague! If a government has told you that it is heroic to die for one's country, and acceptable to kill others in a time of war - disassociate yourself from that nation! Art is about bringing individuals together, to explore and to create, not to murder and destroy. If a teacher has discouraged your creativity and pressured you to write or paint or think following a certain tradition - no longer trust that professor! If a job is taking all of your time and energy, preventing you from exploring and creating - quit that job! Find another way to earn a living! Question everything! Do only what is right for you and your pursuit of the marvelous. Liberate your imagination and desires!


IS SURREALISM STILL AN ACTIVE AND RELEVANT MOVEMENT IN THE ARTS?


While the surrealist movement and many of its principles are something that, on a personal level, mean a great deal to me, there are times I feel that, as a unified, active movement, Surrealism ceased to exist by the late 1960s. Actually, its decline had begun shortly after World War II.

To me, Surrealism, as an active movement, emerged out of World War I and flourished during the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, Paris was the artistic center of the world. (There was no other city like it. Picasso was there and Stravinsky composed The Rite of Spring there.) Surrealists from all over the world united in Paris. Buñuel, Dalí and Miró arrived from Spain, Ernst from Germany, Magritte from Belgium, Man Ray from the USA, Breton, Eluard and Artaud from France. They were unified and active, holding meetings every day. They published a surrealist magazine, operated a surrealist art gallery, opened a Bureau For Surrealist Research, participated in public demonstrations, and had a publishing company that printed dozens of surrealist books and pamphlets. In addition, Buñuel's films Un Chein Andalou and L'Age D'Or were being screened at Paris cinemas, while Artaud was artistic director of The Alfred Jarry Theatre, devoted to his Theatre of Cruelty. 

During World War II, the Surrealists were dispersed all over the globe. Some were killed during the war, while a few others committed suicide. Soon after, Surrealism, as a unified and active movement, began to decline. It continued under André Breton's guidance into the 1960s, but when Breton died, it seemed to mark the end of an era. There are certainly writers and artists today who have been influenced by surrealism. You can even see how surrealism has infiltrated popular culture, with the influence of Dalí and Magritte found in advertisements and cartoons. Surrealism is still very much alive. It's everywhere. However, the question is, as an organized and active movement, does it still exist, or is it just a part of history?

To my knowledge, there is no city in the world today where Surrealists have united, as they did in Paris, to live, breathe, collaborate and create revolutionary change. I don't believe there is a city, an artistic center, as Paris was during the early part of the 20th Century. That was another era, long gone. Perhaps in the 21st Century, the Web is a new opportunity to unite Surrealists.

I believe Surrealism is still relevant. However, I question if there is any sort of united front among Surrealists in the world today. Perhaps it has become something more personal and individualistic. As an active, unified movement, it may be just a part of history.


Todd Bash



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Sanctus Fumigaci by Todd Bash


"Todd Bash is one of the few contemporary playwrights who captures the spirit of surrealism. In fact, surrealist figures from the past, such as Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí and Paul Eluard, appear as characters in a couple of his plays. Dream-like, funny, and sometimes disturbing, SANCTUS FUMIGACI (which, in English, loosely translates to "Holy Smoke") is recommended for fans of avant-garde literature and experimental theater."