Skip to main content

The Horrors of War: Extreme violence on the Great War British Stage

Brooks, Helen E.M. (2018) The Horrors of War: Extreme violence on the Great War British Stage. In: Dramaturgies of War: Institutional Dramaturgy, Politics, and Conflict in the 19th and 20th Centuries, 25-26 January 2018, Glasgow. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)

Abstract

‘This is another horrible play, and it is almost incredible that in such dreadful times as these there can be any demand for artificial horrors’ (BL, LCP1915/17) wrote the Examiner of Plays, George S. Street, on 22 June 1915. His comments were in response to reading the new and anonymously written Sous la Lumiere Rouge, a Grand-Guignol to be performed at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill. The play featured the exhumation of the bloody body of a young woman who had been accidentally buried alive. At a time when soldiers were returning home maimed and disfigured, when stories were circulating in the press of brutal attacks on civilians in France and Belgium, and when British civilians were under attack from the air, Streets comments are understandable. Yet this was not the only Grand-Guignol to be licensed that year. 1915 also saw the production of Le Poison Hindou (Coronet, 30 June 1915) La Fugue de Madame Caramon (Garrick, 23 July 1915), Compiègne 28 Aout 1914 (Garrick, 16 August 1915), and Stafford and Myer’s The Man Who Came Back (Camberwell Empire, 11 October 1915) which featured a man whose face has been half blown off in an accident. Examining this spate of Grand-Guignols, this paper will consider the demand for these ‘artificial horrors’ in the context of the war, arguing that their popularity was in response to, rather than being in spite of the war. Examining these plays in relation to the wider context of the war, the paper will show how the representations of death, disfigurement and claustrophobia central to these plays served to articulate and mediate contemporary anxieties and traumas. At the same point, it will argue that the experience of watching these works of horror also had a cathartic function for a society undergoing mass trauma.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: war; theatre; Great War; theatre history; Grand Guignol; horror
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1655 Drama
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theatre
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Helen Brooks
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2019 13:39 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2019 09:44 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/73670 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Brooks, Helen E.M.: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2650-0524
  • Depositors only (login required):