Chapel of Gore and Psychosis: The Grand Guignol Theatre

Chapel of Gore and Psychosis: The Grand Guignol Theatre

by Jack Hunter
     
 

The Grand Guignol Theatre in Paris, founded by Oscar Metenier in 1897, soon became world-renowned for staging wild and bizarre spectacles of madness, mutilation, horror and death. The theatre's dark prince was André de Lorde, whose gore-drenched psychodramas of medical and surgical horror included A Crime In The Madhouse, The Horrible Experiment, and The System… See more details below

Overview

The Grand Guignol Theatre in Paris, founded by Oscar Metenier in 1897, soon became world-renowned for staging wild and bizarre spectacles of madness, mutilation, horror and death. The theatre's dark prince was André de Lorde, whose gore-drenched psychodramas of medical and surgical horror included A Crime In The Madhouse, The Horrible Experiment, and The System Of Dr. Goudron and Pr. Plume (included here in a brand new translation).

CHAPEL OF GORE & PSYCHOSIS charts the entire history of the Grand Guignol, from its inception to its closure in 1962. It references and describes dozens of stage productions, and also contains a whole section on films which were either based on, or inspired by, the Grand Guignol and its works. The book is illustrated throughout with over 70 photographs and illustrations, and includes a stunning 16-page full colour section that features vintage poster art by the artist Adrien Barrère, amongst others. As well as a new translation of De Lorde, the book also features the first-ever English translation of a revelatory and scandalous memoir by Paula Maxa, first female superstar of the Grand Guignol.

CHAPEL OF GORE & PSYCHOSIS will soon become the essential English-language resource for all who wish to study the history, influence and cultural importance of the Grand Guignol Theatre.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781840681871
Publisher:
Creation Books
Publication date:
09/30/2012
Pages:
111
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

It was Max Maurey (1866-1947) who, from 1899 to 1914, established the Grand Guignol as a world-renowned house of horror. His publicity gimmicks included hiring an in-house doctor in case of fainting spectators - a trick which would be duplicated many years later by the master showman of cinematic horror, William Castle. It was also Maurey who unleashed the writer who would go on to become the literary figurehead of Grand Guignol horror - André de Lorde (1871-1942). Although de Lorde's first piece for the theatre, Post Scriptum (1900) was relatively innocuous, two years later he produced the work which would set him on a path of notoriety. It was during a violent night-time thunderstorm that de Lorde, unable to sleep, seized upon a volume of stories by Edgar Allan Poe, his literary idol. Taking one of Poe's original tales - The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether - he reshaped it into a short theatre-piece of extraordinary horror, set in a lunatic asylum. Returning to Paris, he showed it to André Antoine, by then director of his own, newly-formed Theatre Antoine. Antoine was horrified, declaring that de Lorde's work was "sick” and "dangerous”. And so, Le Système de Dr. Goudron et Pr. Plume was eventually staged at the Grand Guignol, on April 3rd, 1903 [see appendix].
In the years that followed, in addition to its problematic relationship with censorship, the Grand Guignol Theatre engendered something of a controversial reputation among the general public, mostly related to its staging of excessive horrors (an increase in scenes of torture, rape, crime, mutilation, murder and deranged characters), which far from being perceived as negative, ensured that the horrific atmosphere attracted an audience which was a mixture of decadent aesthetes, artists (painters, writers), police inspectors, the mad, the crazy, doctors, butchers and middle-class citizens who wished to enjoy the pleasures of terror. The theatre became a freakshow, a waxworks, an execution site all in one; an unequalled spectacle of morbid and blood-splattered attractions.
The great and dangerous minds of the early 20th century admitted, to some, their more or less continuous frequentation of the place, for there one could meet anarchists, surrealists, or people such as Anaïs Nin or Ernst Jünger, drawn there for dangerous collaborations......

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