Méténier served as the Founder, Original Director, and playwright of the Theatre. His focus on the working class stood in stark contrast to contemporary works. His focus on naturalistically portraying the “true crime” of his time started the gorey obsessions of the theater. He left for financial reasons.
A close collaborator with Méténier- Antoine’s own failed Théâtre Libre served as a basis from which the Grand-Guignol would be formed. Both focused on the vices of man, however Méténier would take Antoine's work further. Supposedly, Méténier brought Antoine to several public executions to illustrate this point.
The Second Director of The Grand-Guignol. He brought its focus farther away from the plights of the proletariat and further into explorations of madness and the evils which lie at the heart of man. He also wrote for the Grand-Guignol, directly bringing in André de Lorde, Alfred Binet, and numerous other famous playwrights into the theater.
The “prince of Terror '', de Lorde wrote many of The Grand-Guignol's most famous plays. Working with numerous cowriters, these include The Ultimate Torture (La Derniere Torture), The Torture Garden (Le Jardin des supplices), and Laboratory of Hallucinations (Le Laboratoire des hallucinations). He also adapted several Edgar Allan Poe stories for the stage, most notably: The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether (Le Systéme du Dr Goudron et Pr Plume).
Noted beyond the Grand-Guignol for his work in psychology, Binet gratefully influenced the still burgeoning theater by placing a psychological emphasis on its output. This resulted in greater naturalistic performances from the actors, but also in the portrayal of numerous shocking (but now completely outdated) mental illnesses and maladies. He also co-wrote many plays at the theater, most notably: A Crime in a Madhouse (Un crime dans une maison de fous)
Commonly referred to as “The Most Assassinated Woman in the World” or "the Sarah Bernhardt of the impasse Chaptal", Maxa was The Grand-Guignol’s greatest star, even writing several articles positively reflecting on her time at the theater. Most notable among these was “I am the Maddest Woman in the World” for its frank discussion of the theater's treatment of women and overall moral panic.
Jouvin served as the Theatre’s director from 1930-1937. The theater began its slow decline in popularity under him. Some attribute this to his focus on drama over horror, his lack of theatrical and business talent, his bullheaded attitude or all of the above. It is widely believed that under his tenure, "camp" elements started to overtake the horror elements that the theatre was so renowned for.
The Grand-Guignol’s director from 1914-1930, Choisy innovated by furthering the emphasis on special effects within the theater. Under his tenure, the subject matter still focused on the horror of man, but with gore that now suited the 'realism' supposedly brought about by Binet.
It is, sadly, important to note the Camille was a man. Due to poor translation, several early works of Grand-Guignol scholarship mislabeled Choisy as the theatre's first female director.
Berkson and Dundas were a british couple and filmmaking pair who took over the Grand-Guignol following Jouvin’s departure. They returned its focus back onto gore rather than drama to negative results. To many critics of the time, the theater had become a parody of itself under their tenure. They also oversaw the theater during the occupation of Paris, although were driven out due to depicting nazi officers in a negative light. Berkson would return following the war, quoted in 1950 as saying "The time had come, to modernize or die."
Nonon was the final director of The Grand-Guignol. He is most famous for attributing the downfall of the theater to the horrors of the second world war overtaking any possible horrors on stage. He is also notable for allegedly having one of the final performances of the Grand-Guignol committed to film in Ecco directed by Gianni Proia.
Level was a faction writer famous within France for his macabre short stories, some of which were published in english as early as 1903. He also wrote plays for the Grand-Guignol including one of its most famous and still staged works: The Final Kiss (Le Baiser dans la nuit).
Berton was another prolific playwright for the Grand-Guignol. He wrote comedies (with themes of cuckoldry and other sexual “perversions” throughout) and horror. He is most known for Tics, or Doing the Deed (Apres coup!...ou tics) and The Light in the Tomb/ Gott mit uns! (La Lumière dans le tombeau/ Gott mit uns!).
Argany was another playwright whose works ranged from The Kiss of Blood (Le Baiser du sang) to Child Killer (Bourreau d'enfants). Working with Eva Berkson, these plays saw women not just as the victim or insane lover. These plays serve as an example of the diverse range of female roles present within the Grand-Guignol.