Marat/Sade, a Play – Peter Weiss (1963)


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, usually shortened to Marat/Sade, is a 1963 play by Peter Weiss. The work was first published in German. Incorporating dramatic elements characteristic of both Antonin Artaud and Bertolt Brecht, it is a depiction of class struggle and human suffering that asks whether true revolution comes from changing society or changing oneself. Set in the historical Charenton Asylum, Marat/Sade is almost entirely a ‘play within a play‘. The main story takes place on 13 July 1808, after the French Revolution; the play directed by the Marquis 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 13 July 1793), then quickly brings the audience up to date (1808). The actors are the inmates of the asylum; 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. 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 occurred. The 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 philosophical 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. Marat/Sade is a play with music. The use of music follows the approach of Brecht, whereby 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. By contrast they often add an alienation effect, interrupting the action of the play and offering historical, social and political commentary. …”
Wikipedia
W – Peter Weiss
Complete Review
Marat/Sade – Piano/Vocal Score – Richard Peaslee, Peter Weiss
Peter Weiss – artist, filmmaker and author
amazon
1960s: Days of Rage – Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade (1963)


Peter Weiss, ”Fahrende Schauspieler” (detail).

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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