University of Exeter Press

Performing Grand-Guignol

Playing the Theatre of Horror

    • 320 Pages

    From the authors of the successful Grand-Guignol and London’s Grand Guignol - also published by UEP – this book includes translations of a further eleven plays, adding significantly to the repertoire of Grand-Guignol plays available in the English language.  The emphasis in the translation and adaptation of these plays is once again to foreground the performability of the scripts within a modern context – making Performing Grand-Guignol an ideal acting guide.

    Hand and Wilson have acquired extremely rare acting copies of plays which have never been published and scripts that were published in the early years of the twentieth century but have not been published since – even in French. Includes plays written by, or adapted from, such notable writers as Octave Mirbeau, Gaston Leroux and St John Ervine as well as examples by Grand-Guignol stalwarts René Berton and André de Lorde.  Also included is the 1920s London translation of Blind Man’s Buff written by Charles Hellem and Pol d’Estoc and banned by the Lord Chamberlain.

    A brief history of the Parisian theatre is also included, for the benefit of readers who have not read the previous books.

    From the authors of the successful Grand-Guignol and London’s Grand Guignol - also published by UEP – this book includes translations of a further eleven plays, adding significantly to the repertoire of Grand-Guignol plays available in the English language.

    From reviews of Grand-Guignol: The French Theatre of Horror (UEP, 2002)
    ‘Richard J. Hand and Michael Wilson . . . manage in a number of telling ways to make the subject their own.  . . . Hand and Wilson’s main interest in Grand Guignol is . . . that of present-day theatre practitioners seeking to understand how these pieces might be able to work for fresh audiences.  . . . they also prove themselves to be highly astute when it comes to examining these works in the light of contemporary (especially post-Freudian) critical theory.  . . . performance practice is continually interrogated by critical and historical insight.’ (Gothic Studies, August 2003)

    ‘… the genre has left more of a mark on British and American culture than we may imagine.’ (Gothic Studies, May 2004)

    From reviews of London’s Grand Guignol and the Theatre of Horror (UEP, 2007)
    ‘...Richard J. Hand and Michael Wilson, who have previously written on the French Grand Guignol for this excellent series from the University of Exeter Press, now turn to the English variant...’
    ‘...London’s Grand Guignol is a fine introduction to a neglected corner of the twentieth-century arts world.’ (Times Literary Supplement, 18 April 2008)

    ‘...London’s Grand Guignol allows Hand and Wilson to make a persuasive case for Grand Guignol’s place not only in modern theatre history, but also in the film history of thrillers and horror films. This book will be useful as a hands-on theatre history and practice text for programs where one might imagine offering students an opportunity to apply their creativity to the same challenges Jose Levy faced.’ (Theatre Survey, Vol. 50/2, November 2009)


    A note on the scripts

    Section I: A Brief History of the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol

    Section II: The Grand-Guignol Laboratory

    Section III: Prefaces and Plays

    First Programme

                The Haunted House (La Maison hantée) by Marc Bonis-Charancle

                The Kama Sutra or Never Play with Fire… (Kama Soutra, ou Il ne faut pas joer avec le feu) by Régis Gignoux

                Blind Man’s Buff by Charles Hellem and Pol d’Estoc

                The Light in the Tomb (Gott mit uns! (La Lumière dans la tombeau))by René Berton

    Second Programme

                Progress by St. John Ervine

                A Silk Dress (Une Robe de Soie) by Henriette Charasson

                The Great Terror (La Grande épouvante) by André de Lorde and Henri Bauche

    Third Programme

                The Wax Museum (Figures de Cire) by André de Lorde and Georges Montignac

                The Lovers (Les Amants) by Octave Mirbeau

                The Man Who Met the Devil (L’homme qui a vu le diable) by Gaston Leroux

                The Man Who Killed Death (L’homme qui a tué la mort) by René Berton

    Richard J. Hand is Professor of Media Practice and Head of Media, Film and TV Studies at University of East Anglia. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

    Richard has written extensively on adaptation, horror studies, European theatre, radio drama, and popular culture. He has also worked as a writer, director and performer for theatre and radio. His practice-based research activities include experimental live re-creations of The Train of Terror! (2005), The Terrifying Tale of Sweeney Todd! (2008), Noel Coward’s The Better Half (2008), and Kandinsky’s The Yellow Sound (2011).

    Michael Wilson is Professor of Drama at Loughborough University. He was previously Professor of Drama and Dean of the School of Media and Performance at University College Falmouth and prior to that was Head of Research at the Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Glamorgan and Co-Director (with Hamish Fyfe) of the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling.

    His main research interests lie in the field of popular and vernacular performance and he has published extensively on Storytelling, Grand-Guignol and Brecht and his collaborators. In particular, his work on storytelling has led him to work on the interface between storytelling and digital technology and the way in which the internet has enabled the telling and sharing of ‘extraordinary’ stories of the everyday experiences of people.

      • 320 Pages