Why Grand Guignol Was Shocking

The BBC tells us: ‘There is a rich tradition of chillingly gruesome stage shows – and the name that looms largest belongs to one tiny Parisian theatre: the Grand Guignol. The theatre opened in 1897 in an old chapel in Pigalle, a disreputable district near Montmartre, alongside the Moulin Rouge. It began as a theatre of realism – showing short, one-act ‘slice of life’ plays about ordinary Parisians. But the show that really got audiences’ tongues wagging was an adaptation of a Maupassant short story set during the Franco-Prussian War, where a French prostitute kills a German officer.’

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