Grand Guignol: The Theatre of Horror, the Efficacy of Horrific Staging, and When My Body Cried Out

Anderson, Angie Taylor
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Grand Guignol is a French genre of theatre that exploited the very strong and real human experience of intense fear in order to create impactful pieces of drama that, though fleeting, affected people deeply and sparked the flame of modern concepts of gore, shock, and thrill. The genre originated in Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, founded by Oscar Méténier in Paris during the late 19th century. The theatre staged gruesome naturalistic plays until its close in 1962, during which time audience members experienced shocking scenes of gore and violence. Today, because of the realistic nature of film and TV, theatrical horror can appear cheap and melodramatic. When My Body Cried Out is an original one-act play written as an exploration of the Guignol genre in an effort to inspire a reinvigoration of its effective horror aesthetics. This play is an investigative endeavor towards applying surviving Guignol aesthetics in modern theatre and film to new, compelling, and believable theatrical horror. Richard Hand and Michael Wilson’s book Grand-Guignol: The French Theatre of Horror was a key component to identifying these aesthetics; this text is one of the most comprehensive and widely-referenced pieces of literature on Grand Guignol and includes short, translated Grand Guignol plays. This new one-act play incorporates Guignol traditions of uninhibited, visceral shock and gore while also integrating modern horror aesthetics such as psychological terror and thrill. When My Body Cried Out is a story about the stigmas of mental illness and the monsters lurking in plain sight.
Grand Guignol, horror, theatre
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