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Reduxion Theatre Presents Night of the Grand Guignol

Filed by Michael Cross in Art & Life, Feature, Local News, News.
October 18, 2012

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A style of theatre popularized a hundred years ago in France is debuting in Oklahoma City just in time for the Halloween season.

Night of the Grand Guignol theatre which explores horror, sensationalism and seduction is running through October to kick off Reduxion Theatre’s fifth season.

Reduxion actors Tyler Waits and Susan Riley perform a scene from one of the many vignettes in Night of the Grand Guignol.

It’s the late 19th, early 20th century and a killer named Jack is taking refuge in a London bordello where Violetta is pushing his buttons and possibly playing with forces she shouldn’t.

Grand Guignol (grawn gee-nyoh) has been a passion of Artistic Director Tyler Woods which led him to want to do experimental theatre.

And, he’s pleased to be brining this unique style to the Sooner State.

“Think Vincent Price meets modern slasher film. It’s something that it’s a bit of a bit of horror a bit of titillation a bit of the macabre, a bit of humor, I think it has it all and I think it will be fascinating for our audience.”

The show runs Friday and Saturday, but each night has four different short stories ranging from 15 to 35 minutes.

“It’s almost like a ‘Twilight Zone’ or ‘Night Gallery’ something like that where there’s a series of short plays. They could be humorous. They could be dramatic. They’re somewhat melodramatic for the most part,” says actress Sue Ellen Reiman.

The shows include gory special effects produced through creative props and set pieces which as managing Director Erin Woods explains was certainly a challenge.

“There’s a lot of magic tricks involved with it. There’s a lot of gadgetry involved with it. We have a whole that is based around a guillotine, so we had to build a working guillotine and then make sure that it was safe enough to use night after night, bit kill actors as we go.”

That’s right a working guillotine!

But, a great play is nothing without fantastic actors, and this eight person cast has its work cut out for it.

Susan Riley had to learn several different roles and create unique characters for each one.

“Going from Violette who’s a working girl to Palmere who has something else to say entirely. There’s just different characters that people want to see and it’s not only getting into their mind set, but how they walk, how they talk and their costumes as well.”

So, eight different short scenes with multiple styles, how do you present that to an audience?

Well, Tyler Waits who earlier was playing the character of Jack is asking viewers to bring an open mind and realize they might be as much a part of the show as the cast.

“We’re going to be interacting quite a bit with them. They’re going to be getting a lot of kind of unpleasantly long stares in their direction and things like that. They may even get kind of touched here and there or something put on them.”

Reduxion Theatre prides itself on revisiting the classics, and in Night of the Grand Guignol, it’s no different.

Tyler Woods explains it’s still about brining something old to a modern audience.

“If you listen to what that author really wanted to say and you honor that and you do your best to transmit that through the actors to the audience to the patrons then they’ll receive the original thrills and chills of the Grand Guignol Parisian Theatre.”

This Saturday’s event also includes a pre-show, intermission and post-show from member of OKC Improv.

The night of the Grand Guignol is not for children as it does contain violent and sexual themes.

It runs through October 27th.

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