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The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade (or Marat Sade)
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The UK edition features an extended Epilogue, including an explanation from Sade, the "resurrection" and counter-explanation of Marat, and a giant poster of Napoleon during the parade scene. In this edition, some of the Herald's lines were given to Coulmier to apparently bridge the gap.
All of the descriptions, introductions, notes, and even inclusion of musical scores remain identical. If given a choice, I would certainly look for that edition, as it is somewhat more fulfilling. (It features a standard black & white cover with no pink trim)
abbreviated as Marat/Sade is set in 1808, yet many of the
comments are distinctly directed toward current events,
notably the upheavals in Eastern Europe. Now, with the
fall of the Soviet Union behind us, the play takes on even
greater significance. Despite the reassurances of the asylum
director, whether a mere fifteen years or well over two
hundred years have passed, the nature of revolutions, and
the fanatics who cause them, has not changed. Combining
historical events with modern theatrics, Weiss has produced
what has been and will continue to be one of the most
disturbing, as well as one of the most important works
ever to be performed on stage.
"This play-within-a-play is about pushing at the limits", said Dramaturg William Lewis Evans.
I first saw the play performed by students of the Bishop's College School Studio Theatre in Lennoxville, Quebec. The text was phenomenally stimulating. The play was memorable, intense, and for the audience at least, indeed a little scary. Marat/Sade, after all, is the practical quintessence of what Antonin Artaud called the Theatre of Cruelty - theatre of the visceral and disturbing - theatre that "wakes us up, mind and heart". The highlight of that Canadian gala, for me, was when I witnessed an audience member and retired member of the French Foreign Legion (an outstanding citoyen-expatrie who should remain nameless) stand up - in the middle of this High School play - and leave the theatre in protest.
The play was, and remains, exceedingly powerful.
Years later I saw the play performed by Yale students in New Haven, Connecticut. If I remember correctly, Loren Stein directed. At one point during the performance, it became clear to the audience that one of the patients - an actor - had, during the course of the performance, in fact urinated on an audience member. As a reporter for Radio in New Haven, I interrogated that audience member at the end of the night, and caught a soundbite.
"It was wonderful. I don't know what else to say. This is Theatre, I guess. Real theatre."
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that this play should end up out of print, along with a dozen or so others like it, and be replaced on your roster with the latest celebrity-authored self-help books.
Maybe Oprah Winfrey will teach me how to fry tofu. It seems to be all we have a taste for anymore.
Franklin Pryce Raff
The story takes place in an insane asylum in France around the time of the French Revolution, where The Marquis de Sade was kept for a number of years. He wrote a play about the revolutionary - Jean-Paul Marat, which was performed by the inmates of the asylum.
However, the play is much more than that. It really is a commentary about about how people behave toward one another during terrible periods of time.
I think it is a remarkable play - sometimes a little horrifying - but very well worth while picking up to read. I whole heartedly recommend it.
The reason why I give it a four star is because the binding isn't all that great.
I knew very little beyond the superficial about Sade or Marat, so I was somewhat surprised to discover that Sade actually wrote plays while confined in Charenton that were performed by the inmates, and that Marat was a scientist who expressed ideas well ahead of his time. I was inspired to learn more about Marat, so I read his essay ARE WE UNDONE, in which he urges: "The cutting off of five or six hundred heads would have guaranteed your peace, liberty and happiness." In the play he justifies this savagery by insisting (p. 113): "We do not murder we kill in self-defence." (It might very well be our beloved president speaking). If Marat was made the scapegoat for the Reign of Terror, it was not without foundation.
Weiss writes that what interested him "in bringing Sade and Marat together was the conflict between an individualism carried to extreme lengths and the idea of a political and social upheaval. Speaking to Marat, Sade says (p. 131), "these cells of the inner self are worse than the deepest stone dungeon as long as they are locked all your Revolution remains only a prison mutiny to be put down by corrupted fellow-prisoners." This dovetails interestingly with Sade's comment to his wife when she complained that one could not approve of his mode of thought (p. 147): "My mode of thought is the result of my reflections, it is a part of my life, of my own nature.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having read this play, which i have meant to do for many years, I viewed the British production from the 1960s on youtube. Incredibly powerful theatre. Read morePublished 25 days ago by M. A. Seifter
This is one of the best modern plays out there. Great for entire class and ensemble scenes for actors in training. Also just an excellent read. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Andrew Walker
For a fuller appreciation of this work, find the filmed version of the play. A timely work very much applicable to life here in the land of the free.Published 23 months ago by A. Levine
Bought this book for my uncle to replace one lost in the course of life, brutal, really great book... ExcellentPublished on January 8, 2014 by C-rad
Peter Weiss, who wrote this play, was an ardent Jewish Marxist. He speaks the Marxist position through the words of Marat and the reactionary position through the words of deSade. Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by pareto
Everything was according to schedule, I understand the POV and plot line - I just don't like it. I just might resell itPublished on May 16, 2013 by Actressonthego
so very worth the read and consideration for an ensemble production for a district and state competition for high schools. so much room to grow for young performers. Read morePublished on January 9, 2012 by nocolourblue
Very good play that will get an audience to think more deeply about the results of revolutions throughout the world. Read morePublished on December 23, 2010 by Joe Wingrove