Grand-Guignol: Cast of Characters
  • Oscar Metenier opened the Theatre du Grand Guignol in 1897 as a house of naturalism, modeling it after Andre Antoiné’s Théâtre Libre.
  • Max Maurey, who took over the theatre two years later, was responsible for establishing the Grand Guignol’s identity as “The French Theatre of Horror.”  Maurey was a master of publicity and initiated such marketing ploys as the hiring of a house doctor to tend to all of the audience members who were likely to become ill in response to the gruesome sights presented on stage.
  • Paula Maxa was the Grand Guignol’s horror diva, rumored to have been killed on stage more than 10,000 times.
  • Paul Ratineau was an actor and stage manager at the Grand Guignol for many years, but he is remembered best for developing the majority of the theatre’s grisly special effects which included decapitations!
  • Andre de Lorde, known as “The Prince of Terror,” was the most prolific of the Grand Guignol’s playwrights, contributing plays to the theatre’s repertoire for almost forty years.
  • Camille Choisy and Charles Zibell took control of the theatre after Max Maurey, at the start of World War I, and saw it through its golden age.
  • Jack Jouvin became the driving force of the Grand Guignol when he bought out Zibell in 1926.  Anxious to have full control over every aspect of the theatre (including efforts to write nearly all of its new material), he elbowed Choisy out as well.  Ultimately, however, his takeover marked the start of the theatre’s decline.
  • The Theatre du Grand Guignol passed through many hands before it finally closed its doors in 1963.