Marat/Sade

Marat/Sade

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 (Die Verfolgung und Ermordung Jean Paul Marats dargestellt durch die Schauspielgruppe des Hospizes zu Charenton unter Anleitung des Herrn de Sade), almost invariably shortened to Marat/Sade, is a 1963 play by Peter Weiss. The work was initially published in the German language.

Incorporating dramatic elements characteristic of both Artaud and Bertolt Brecht, it is a bloody and unrelenting depiction of human struggle and suffering which asks whether true revolution comes from changing society or changing one's self.

Plot synopsis

Set in the historical Charenton Asylum, now d’Hôpital Esquirol, Marat/Sade is almost entirely a "play within a play". The main story takes place on July 13 1808, after the French Revolution; the play directed by de Sade within the story takes place during the Revolution, in the middle of 1793, culminating in the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat (which took place on July 13, 1793), then quickly brings the audience up to date (1808). The actors are the inmates of the asylum, and the nurses and supervisors occasionally step in to restore order. The bourgeois director of the hospital, Coulmier, supervises the performance, accompanied by his wife and daughter. He is a supporter of the post-revolutionary government led by Napoleon, in place at the time of the production, and believes the play he has organised to be an endorsement of his patriotic views. His patients, however, have other ideas, and they make a habit of speaking lines he had attempted to suppress, or deviating entirely into personal opinion. Suffice it to say that they, as people who came out of the revolution no better than they went in, are not entirely pleased with the course of events as they fell.

The infamous Marquis de Sade, the man after whom sadism is named, did indeed direct performances in Charenton with other inmates there, encouraged by Coulmier. De Sade is a main character in the play, conducting many dialogues with Marat and observing the proceedings with sardonic amusement. He remains detached and cares little for practical politics and the inmates' talk of right and justice; he simply stands by as an observer and an advocate of his own nihilistic and individualist beliefs. One of the most powerful scenes of the play depicts him being whipped on his own instructions, and such bold scenes are not alone, nor confined to the predilections of the Marquis himself.

Soundtrack

Marat/Sade is a play with music. This follows much in the path of Bertolt Brecht where the songs comment on themes and issues of the play. Unlike a traditional musical format, the songs do not further the plot or expositional development of character in the play. In contrast, they often add an alienation effect, interrupting the action of the play and offering historical, social and political commentary. Richard Peaslee composed music for the original English-language production of Marat/Sade directed by Peter Brook. Although there is no official score to the play in any language, the success of the Brook-directed Royal Shakespeare Company production and film caused the Peaslee score to be popular for English-language productions. Sections of the Peaslee score have been included in trade copies of the Skelton/Mitchell English translation (based on the text used for the Royal Shakespeare Company productions). The full score is available from ECS Publishing/Galaxy Music Corporation. The original Royal Shakespeare Company production was so popular that some of the songs from the show were recorded as a medley by Judy Collins on her album In My Life.

Recordings of the songs were made by the cast of the original Royal Shakespeare Company production and film. The first recording of the show was a three LP set released in 1964 by Caedmon Records. This was a complete audio recording of the original Broadway production. The second release was a single soundtrack album LP of the film score, released by Caedmon/United Artists Records. The third release was a CD compilation of two Brook/Peaslee Royal Shakespeare Company productions: Marat/Sade & US, released by Premier Recordings. The songs, as included on a CD released by Premier Recordings in 1992:

  1. Homage to Marat
  2. The Corday Waltz
  3. Song and Mime of Corday's Arrival in Paris
  4. The People's Reaction
  5. Those Fat Monkeys
  6. Poor Old Marat
  7. One Day It Will Come to Pass
  8. Poor Marat in Your Bathtub Seat
  9. Poor Old Marat (Reprise)
  10. Copulation Round
  11. Fifteen Glorious Years
  12. Finale

This track list omits Royal Anthem (which appears on all other recordings) and does not specifically mention The Tumbrel Song either individually or as a part of Song and Mime of Corday's Arrival in Paris.

Productions

In 1964, the play was translated by Geoffrey Skelton with lyric adaptation by Adrian Mitchell and staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Peter Brook directed a cast that included Ian Richardson as Marat, Patrick Magee as de Sade, and Glenda Jackson as Charlotte Corday.

After two previews, the Broadway production opened on December 27, 1965 at the Martin Beck Theatre and ran for 145 performances. Richardson, Magee, and Jackson reprised the roles they had originated in London.

The play won the Tony Award for Best Play, and Brook was named Best Director. Additional awards went to Magee for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play and Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss for her Costume Design. Jackson lost the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play to Zoe Caldwell.

Film adaptation

The 1967 film adaptation utilized the long version of the play's name in its opening credits, although this was frequently shortened to Marat/Sade in publicity materials. The screenplay was written by Adrian Mitchell. Brook directed a cast that included Richardson, Magee, Jackson, Clifford Rose, and Freddie Jones.

References

  • David Galens (ed.) Marat/Sade. eNotes. Retrieved on 2008-08-23..

Further reading

  • Weiss, Peter (1964). 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. First edition, London: John Calder.

External links

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