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The Grand Guignol Theatre: Venue of Social Change and Spectacle

Honor Student The Grand Guignol Theatre: Venue of Social Change and Spectacle

Department: History
Symposium Year: 2013
Student(s): Dana Bridges Bohrer
Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Sally A. Boniece

 

The Grand Guignol Theatre, established in an old church in Paris in 1897, would become the most influential theatre of the twentieth century. In 1897, Oscar Métenier opened the Theatre of the Grand Guignol to inspire the audience to feel sympathy for the plight of the lower class people who were portrayed. Eventually Métenier left the theatre and Max Maurey took over. Maurey rid the theatre of any trace of sympathy and transformed the Grand Guignol into a venue for gore. The Grand Guignol’s methods of exploiting the lower class for the sake of spectacle along with its violent and shocking subject matter and style provided outlets for middle and upper class resentment and desire. Though the theatre was continuously a reflection of French society, the lower class went from being ignored, to being portrayed as a helpless people in need, and finally to a rabble whose misfortune was used as entertainment. French theatre transitioned from a reflection of bourgeois values to an intended agent of social change, finally becoming the violent and sexually charged spectacle of the Grand Guignol. 

 

 

 

Present in 2014

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