28 August 2019

Work cited:

Breton, André. "First Surrealist Manifesto." Surrealism. Waldberg, Patrick, editor. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971, pp. 66-75.

Originally published in French as Le Manifeste du Surréalisme, 1924.


This manifesto presents surrealism as an artistic movement that replaces reason and logic with the emotional unconscious as the dominant form of human understanding. By tapping dreamlike "non-reason,” it is possible to reach one's full human potential and fully address human experience, emotion and spirit. The manifesto is divided into two main sections: first, a debunking of logical narrative, and secondly, examples of dreams as representative of the surrealist mind. Importantly, Breton declares inspiration from Freud and his theories of the unconscious and subconscious mind.

The text specifically defines surrealism as:

SURREALISM, noun, masc., Pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations.

How does this relate to scenography?

Visual narratives, particularly on the stage, need not be logical. Surrealism, especially in its identification with dreams and dream-logic, provides a structure for ways of interpreting perception of the world around us without resorting to the tropes of naturalism, realism, abstraction or symbolism. It is an important tool in a theatrical designers toolkit. 

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