Unbridled Imagination and Imperturbable Logic

An Analysis of the Theatre du Grand Guignol and the Historical, Technological, and Theatrical Changes it Embodied


  • Colby Mackenzie Student




Theatre, Violent Entertainment, History, France, macabre, theatre history


The Theatre du Grande Guignol was in operation between 1897 and 1962; during its tenure, it provided entertainment to the Parisian masses. This paper seeks to prove that the violent entertainment shown in the Theatre du Grand Guignol epitomizes a microcosm of the broader historical, technological, and theatrical changes during its 65 years in operation. Through primary source documents, such as the plays being performed, and secondary sources, such as French historical documents, this analysis consolidates these informative texts to understand the bigger picture of the Theatre in the grander context of human experience. The violent nature being represented on the stage of the Guignol soon reflected the brutal nature of World War Two, thus blurring the lines between fact and fiction, art and life, imagination and reality. This opens up a discussion on the essence of humanity and its ensuing effect on the entertainment industry leading into the modern day, and the enduring macabre fascination with gruesome spectacle.