Even though his mother gave birth to many children, only Antonin, his brother and sister survived childhood. At the age of four, Antonin fell ill with meningitis. This disease made Antonin a nervous and bad-tempered person throughout teenage years. Furthermore, he suffered from neuralgia, stammering and strong periods of depression. His parents arranged a long series of sanatorium treatment for their troublemaking son, which continued five years, with a two-month break, when Antonin was conscripted into the army. He was not accepted there because of his habit of sleepwalking, stimulated by himself. For the period of Artaud's "rest cures" at the clinics he read Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Poe. In May 1919 the chief doctor of the sanatorium, Dr. Dardel, recommended opium for Artaud, 'prescribing' a lifelong addiction to different kinds of drugs. Artaud came to Paris in 1920, and in 1926 he was expelled from the Paris surrealist group. In November 1926 he created his Manifesto for an Abortive Theatre.
Starting from 1930, Artaud scrutinized theatre in order to create his own concept. The Theatre and Its Double was one of his most famous literary works in this field. His theatrical play, The Cenci, did not bring any commercial success, as the audience ignored his newly-created Theatre of Cruelty. The performance featured an extravagant mixture of sound effects and at one play; Artaud took a role of Count Cenci as a dog, coming on stage on all fours, barking his lines. After the failure of his performance, Artaud got an opportunity to travel to Mexico where he taught literature at the university. He also worked on his study of the Tarahumara and experimented with the drug peyote, writing carefully all his experiences which were published in future in a book titled "The Peyote Dance". The content of this book is close-knit with the poems of that days, related mainly to the supernatural.
'In 1937, Artaud returned to France where he obtained a walking stick of knotted wood that he believed belonged to St. Patrick. Artaud sought to return the staff to the Irish. It must be noted that he spoke very little English and he was unable to make himself understood' (answers.com, 2005, par.15). The greater part of his journey was spent in a hotel room that Artaud was not able to pay for. 'On the return trip from Ireland, Artaud was arrested and put in a straight-jacket' (ibid). For the period of Second World War Artaud was placed into a hospital, where he was treated with an electroshock and other barbaric methods. Finally, his health got even worse and on March 4th, 1948 Artaud passed away, alone in his room, seated at the foot of his bed, holding his shoe. He was considered to take a lethal dose of the drug chloral, but no-one knows the real conditions of his death.
In his book 'Theatre and its double', Artaud demonstrated his respect to Easternn types of theatre, and the Balinese Theatre in particular. He appreciated Eastern theatre due to the codified physicality of Balinese dance shows, which are full of rituals, and promoted what he named a "Theatre of Cruelty". By cruelty, he implied not sadism or hurting, but rather a brutal, physical determination to break the artificial reality which, he said, 'lies like a shroud over our perceptins' (Artaud, 1954, p.38). He stated that text had been a tyrant over the significance of the word, and supported, as an alternative, an