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<  General  ~  something new and weird about Grand Guignol

licona
Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2003 11:04 am Reply with quote
New Member Joined: 29 Dec 2003 Posts: 1 Location: taranto-italy
Hello!I m a new member and I am from Italy. In the 90's I had the chance to visit Paris and to make a research on Grand Guignol for my studies in art and theatre. I know of movies about Grand guignol and i'm actually working on a story about occultism in Paris fin-de-si?cle in which we find some bizzarre personnages and also some "guignolers" I'm always interested in these topics and I 'm waiting for discussions and suggestions. Licona@libero.it
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Russell Blackwood
Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:31 pm Reply with quote
Moderator Joined: 18 Sep 2003 Posts: 125
Benvenuto Licona!

Here?s a little something to add to your files of ?bizarre personages? ? Maxa, the Grand Guignol?s formost leading lady, who earned such monikers as ?la Sarah Bernhardt de l?impasse Chaptal? and ?la princesse de l?horreur.? She was said to have been murdered on the Grand Guignol stage some 10,000 times. And through frequently dispatched by gunshot or stab wound, Maxa also portrayed heroines that were either flattened by a steamroller, devoured by a puma, cut into 93 pieces by an invisible Spanish dagger, crucified or burned alive.

Maxa made her Le Theatre du Grand Guignol debut in 1917 and became the company?s reigning prima donna through its heyday in the early 1930?s. Maxa then opened her own grand guignol theatre in 1933 calling it ?Le theatre de la Vice et de la Vertu,? but it was short lived and Maxa did return, periodically, to perform at the original Grand Guignol for more than twenty years.

Like the Grand Guignol itself, Maxa fed her myth. The following is an except from I am the Maddest Woman in the World, written by Maxa herself and published by America?s own True magazine in December 1938.



Since the first day I stood on the stage of the Grand Guignol I have died thousands of violent deaths in every imaginable manner. There isn?t a spot on my body that hasn?t been exposed in spasms of torture and trembled in weird paroxysms. I had been shot, burned, poisoned flogged in the nude, bitten by snakes, dismembered on a butcher?s table, strangled, left bleeding to death ? all at the whim of the playwrights.

I probably received more insane, weird, and abject letters than any other actress in the world. In my private life dope-fiends, sadists, flagellants, homosexuals hang around me. I met some good souls too, however, who wanted to save me from the vicious hallucinations that had become my very existence. I remember one of these saviors in particular, Marcel?

At the time I knew him I was playing in the Marquis de Sade, a melodrama full of the customary horrors. The actor taking the part of the perverted French nobleman forced me to crouch on all fours and to lick his hands like a dog. He chained me in irons and slashed my breasts; in the end he locked me in his house to drive me insane. In a fit of madness I strangled his daughter who shrieked and moaned horribly in her death struggle.

One must be pretty much insane not to find such a series of atrocities simply ridiculous. But ? there are many people insane to that extent. I, myself, found great pleasure in the horrors as long as I was on the stage.

Marcel was unhappy to see me pursuing such a career. But he loved me so much that he tried to put up with it.

One evening before we left the theatre I conceived of a satanic idea. I told Marcel to get several thousand francs in bills. I managed to arrive earlier than usual.

?Put the bills on the seats all over the house!? I told him.

He did it reluctantly, thinking it was a quite unnecessary publicity stunt. I asked him to join me on the stage as soon as he finished.

We stood behind the peep-hole and watched the arrival of the spectators.

The first to come grabbed the bills, turned them around skeptically and couldn?t believe that they were genuine. Then a woman cried excitedly: ?But they?re real ones!?

A wild rush followed. The smartly dressed audience scrambled, pushed and jumped over the seats to collect the notes. They fought on their hands and knees, tore the bills away from each other? Women lost their handbags and jewels in the brawl. Fists flailed and clothes were torn off in the free-for-all of the bill-hunting. Dignified gentlemen in tails and white ties knocked each other around, kicked women and twisted their wrists to make them release the money? The bejeweled ladies of Paris society were not showing any more restraint than their escorts, as they bit and scratched and screamed? The refined, sophisticated and always well-mannered public of Paris was unleashed. It showed its true face: that of a beast. Most of us have such a second face, I think. The face of a beast.
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