Antonin Artaud was a French writer, poet, dramatist, and theater director. Known for his raw, surreal, and transgressive themes, he was a major figure in 20th-century theater. He outlined his theories in the Theatre of Cruelty movement, expressed in the form of essays and plays. He died of cancer at the age of 51.
Born into a family of lawyers, Pierre Corneille, too, initially studied law. However, both he and his younger brother, noted playwright Thomas Corneille, deviated from their family profession. Part of the Society of Five Authors, selected by Cardinal de Richelieu, Corneille later grew into one of the greatest 17th-century tragedians.
Born to a Norwegian father, whom she didn’t know until she grew up, and a Romanian mother, who was associated with the stage, Maria Björnson established herself as a leading set and costume designer. She is best known for her Tony-winning work in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.
Best remembered for melodramatic plays such as The Dog of Montarges and Coelina, theater director and playwright René-Charles Guilbert de Pixérécourt was known for his signature realistic sets. His melodramas set the tone for the theater of the 19th century. He had initially studied law and had then served the army.
Born to French travelling acrobats, Alexander Placide initially gained fame as a tightrope walker at Louis XVI’s court. A professional dancer and entertainer, he later moved to the U.S. and led the Charleston Theatre. His shows included ballets, pantomime dramas, and fencing tournaments. He later married opera singer Charlotte Wrighten Placide.