Return of Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol -- "graphic, amoral horror entertainment"

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I wonder if that troupe was Anne Rice’s inspiration for the “Théâtre des Vampires” in Interview with the Vampire.


The problem herein is that in this day & age of perpetual ‘shock value,’ I can’t fathom a way that this old art form could possibly hold it’s own, outside of actual “snuff theater.”

I mean, seriously; when flicks like the umpteenth Saw installment, Hostel or, worst of all, a Serbian Film are ‘all the rage’ in horror entertainment, what ‘edges’ are there left to be “pushed?”

Get out of my head.


It was Stephen Sondheim’s inspiration for “Sweeney Todd.”

Plus ça change…


Penny Dreadful moved it to England

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The Thrillpeddlers in San Francisco, spearheaded by Russel Blackwood, performed Grand Guignol pieces for close to 20 years. They have been on hiatus since spring of 2017 when they lost the lease on their warehouse/theatre space. They had presented an annual Shocktoberfest performance during the Fall of each year, in addition to reviving the Theater of the Absurd musical of the Cockettes. There is also a long-running Grand Guignol theatre company in Brazil called Vigor Mortis.


Those magnificent posters!


While I totally agree that audiences are way overexposed to shocks and gore these days to be ‘shocked’ by Grand Guignol, in a time when CGI has gotten so cheap and ubiquitous that special effects aren’t so special anymore, watching horror on a live stage definitely has its own unique it’s-really-happening shock value.

I recently saw a production of Shockheaded Peter that involved a whole lot of blood and people being cut to bits during klezmer songs, which was its own sort of Grand Guignol sort of thing.


I know. The style must have been breathtaking in its’ day.

There’s a lot to be said for live performances. Sure, I can see videos of Cirque du Soleil performances, but it’s not the same as being there live to watch the performance. There’s also something to be said for the variability of a live performance. Some performances involve playing off of audience reactions.


I thought that that was obvious…

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