If you thought Sweeney Todd was creepy, wait until you see the work of Thrillpeddlers, who describe themselves as "a company of artists, actors, writers, musicians, and technicians dedicated to creating a new era of live horror theatre and events in the tradition of Le Theatre du Grand Guignol."
Thrillpeddlers, who have been performing intermittently at various San Francisco-area theatres since 1991, have redesigned their website at www.thrillpeddlers.com, to make it a resource for fans of the horror play.
The queasy should be warned. The home page carries an image of a woman holding a bloody severed hand in her mouth.
Thrillpeddlers seek to emulate the style of the 19th century French theatre that was the forerunner of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street films. The Paris-based Grand Guignol company theatre offered programs of short lurid playlets showing acts of violence, imprisonment, insanity, revenge etc., often with horrific and bloody conclusions.
"There1s a lot of interest out there," said Managing Director Daniel Zilber, "but there's no resource for information up to now. We hope to add more articles, more resources to the site. We1d especially like to start a network of people interested in this kind of theatre. " Zilber said Grand Guignol is a very specific kind of theatre. "So many [younger playwrights] try to write a horror movie for the stage, rather than a horror play. They focus on the violence or mayhem rather than on characters or ideas. We approach the concept from doing good theatre first, and horror second. "
Make no mistake about where his heart lies -- he said the company has never done Stephen Sondheim's Guignol-inspired Sweeney Todd because "It's not gory enough."
He said the company also tries to stay away from "the Vampire Lesbians of Sodom model -- we don't want to do campy sendups of horror movies."
-- By Robert Viagas