Marat/Sade - NIU - School of Theatre and Dance


By Peter Weiss

It is July 13, 1808, fifteen years after the French Revolution has ended, and the inmates of the Charenton lunatic asylum are producing a play that retells the story of the assassination of the revolutionary figure, Jean-Paul Marat. It is being performed for the stuffed wigs of the Napoleon court to prove the value of the treatment they receive. The play is directed by the infamous Marquis de 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, or, as it is most commonly known, Marat/Sade is an extraordinary piece of innovative theatre based on two historical truths: de Sade was confined in the lunatic asylum of Charenton, where he staged plays; and the revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat was stabbed in a bathtub by Charlotte Corday at the height of the Terror during the French Revolution.

However, this play-within-a-play is not historical drama, but rather a visually terrifying argument over the essential nature of man and whether revolutions or insane asylums can truly accomplish anything.

"It's hard to imagine anything more intellectually invigorating or brilliantly dramatized than this dramatic free-for-all. The play is intoxicated with its ideas ... Marat/Sade is everything theater should be - engaging, committed, unpredictable, the perfect fusion of action and argument." - Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Reader.

(This SoTD production is not affiliated with DeKalb CUSD #428)