RTÉ Radio 1 Drama On One

Saint Artaud by Aidan Mathews

Antonin Artaud, liturgist, dramaturge journeyed to Ireland in 1937..

Antonin Artaud, liturgist and dramaturge, journeyed to Ireland in the late summer of 1937 in search of a sacred phallus -St. Patrick’s staff- that would finally and forever liberate him from the travail of his own sexuality. After several misadventures, he was arrested for a breach of the peace (he had stormed a Jesuit house of studies in the small hours), was detained for six days in the custody of the state and then deported to France where he was committed to the lunatic asylum of Sainte Anne in the despairing care of a mid-thirties medical registrar called Jacques Lacan. He would remain an inmate of successive institutions until 1946, two years before his release from the life-sentence of his own existence.

Saint-Artaud represents Artaud’s carceral week in Ireland, his six-days-and-no-sabbath in De Valera’s Dublin, through a fictive relationship with an elderly Metropolitan policeman who ministers to him in a station cell and through various encounters with visitors and visitants, legation officials and clergy of several faiths, who attempt to identify the alien at large in the basement of the barracks. And it undertakes the task as a radio-play, as word and breath, in the humbled awareness that Artaud, in the speechlessness of his own suffering, found language no more useful to his wants than cutlery to a starving man.