Grand-Guignol is a world-famous genre of French theatre that blends horror and comedy, often in a shocking way. It is named after Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Paris where, beginning in 1897, plays in this genre began. From then until 1962, hundreds of plays premiered to shocked audiences with adult themes of sexual assault, extreme gore, and other horrific ideas as their selling point. These shows were not just terrifying but also titillating in their subject matter. This idea of "Hot and Cold Showers", where nights at the Grand-Guignol would feature multiple shorter shows that alternated between horror and comedy is one of its key defining features. Another feature that defined this theatre and truly set it apart from its contemporaries and even most horror theatre today is its refusal of the supernatural. Instead, the horror and humor of the theatre are explicitly derived from human behavior and the base impulses of man.
This website was made by Alex Savage in order to educate and intrigue theatrically minded students, professionals, and/or other theater artists about the Grand-Guignol. Alex Savage has been studying the Grand-Guignol informally since high school, but during the pandemic, his interest piqued. He is now a two-time recipient of a TRELS award for his research. He also just finished producing, dramaturging, and directing a Grand-Guignol revival show at UCSD.
His research that forms the basis for this website has been informed through consistent talks with both the San Diego's Repertory Theater's artistic director Todd Salovey and the preeminent English language scholar on the Grand-Guignol Richard J. Hand and Michael Wilson. Additional oversight in the form of discussion and review has also been provided by Molotov Theatre's Alex Zavistovich.