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“A Fall from Grace”

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Graham, W. D. (Canadian playwright, BA, 19__-____), “A Fall from Grace,”

an 80-minute drama in English, set in the Asylum of Charenton, Paris, France, mid-morning,  1814,


  •  © 1998 by W. D. Graham;  •  script/rights available from W. D. Graham, #702, 1208 14 Avenue SW, Calgary Alberta T3C 0V9, Canada, e-mail dctc@virtualcity.com, telephone (home) 403-617-0200.  •  Cited by W. D. Graham, via ftp August 8, 1999; Graham says,

  § Dramatis Personae Marquis de Sade (m), 74, old, weak atheist prisoner; Priest (m), 22, naïve, steadfast; Bishop (m), 59; Madame de Montreuil (f), 79, Sade’s mother-in-law.

  § Synopsis “Having just returned from five months of solitary confinement, the Marquis is old, weak and is having difficulty walking. A young Priest is sent to administer his last rites. This turns out to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back! Who is out to make de Sade mad? The Marquis’ captors and tormentors are about to have their last fun with history’s most notorious atheist.

  § Comment “Marquis de Sade is debauched, slightly over-weight (or under) and has a difficult time walking.
He uses a walking stick. After almost thirty years of various imprisonments he is just returning to his cell
from five months of solitary confinement. The Priest , very impressionable, has been sent to ‘save’ Sade’s soul and administer his last rights. Being so young, he is still naïve to the way of the world and holds steadfastly to the traditions and beliefs of the church doctrines. Bishop and Madame de Montreuil have small roles. From genius to madman . . . . After almost thirty years of different prisons, asylums, fortresses and keeps, history’s most infamous writer, philosopher and libertine, The Marquis de Sade, is about to have his final revenge. Loosely based on the only known letters written by the Marquis de Sade, historical records and critiques, two of his books, Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man (1782) and Justine (1791), ‘A Fall From Grace’ examines the last few hours of the Marquis’ life in prison.   •  Some stage directions, mostly to denote motivations and temperaments, have been included. However, this is mostly for the benefit of the reader. Most of the action is open to interpretation. The script, though, is written to mirror two fanatics at opposite ends of the pendulum, that is, theist vs. atheist, old vs. young, traditional vs. non-traditional. Each is the alter ego of the other.  •  Music and sound effects are also left to interpretation. Most evident, are the sounds of screaming insinuating tortures, clanging of cell doors, moaning and groaning. Opening music should be Monk chanting or the like. End music is ‘Amazing Grace,’ by John Newton, who himself was a libertine, changed to a man of God and inspired by God to write this song. One could also treat this play as performance art and use a violinist or harpist to underscore the action. Music and sound effects for the play are available upon request for a nominal charge—either on cassette or cd. We can also
supply art work for posters and programs if wanted.   •  This is a story about freedom of speech and the dangers of censorship and the responsibility that accompanies these freedoms. We see extremes at its best. From theism vs. atheism, poverty vs. riches, young vs. old.  •  The play talks about everything we are taught not to talk about: sex, politics and religion. Be ready to test your faith in what you consider to be good and what you consider to be evil. You may be surprised at just how much you have in common with the most feared man in the past two hundred years!”   •  “De Sade came to fame through the publication of his novels Justine ou es les infortunes de la virtue (1791) and La nouvelle Justine, suivi de l’histoire de Juliette, sa soeur, ou es les properties du vice (1797) and Philospohie dans le boudoir (1795). De Sade defined art as ‘the perpetual immoral subversion of the existing order.’ This philosophy was also reflected in his writings which radically threatened the acceptable moral boundaries of the time. Amongst scenes of adultery, incest, sexual violence and sodomy de Sade also advocated the rights of women and their right to enjoy sexual freedom. For de Sade sex was politically imbued. He advocated the freedom of the individual to subvert and reject the existing social structures and institutions, moral codes and repressive forces of politics and society. De Sade’s works were banned under the rule of Napoleon and he was kept under scrutiny in a mental institution. He was eventually imprisoned for his opposition to the death penalty. The term sadism was created by the writer Richard Von Kraft-Ebing in his book discussing sexual variation Psychopathia Sexualis (1886) as a reference to de Sade. He defined Sadism as the act of sexual arousal produced by inflicting pain. He named masochism after the writer Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch who displayed a fetish for a woman in furs who taunted her male lover with a whip for his lustful behaviour. Masochism was therefore the opposite—the desire to receive pain and be subjected to force in a sexual context. Von Kraft-Ebing theorised that expressions of sadism were in fact an extreme manifestation and pathological illumination of masculinity and that masochism was a pathological degeneration of female traits.”—The Marquis de Sade, http://www.warehouse.net/yippiebean/sade.htm, accessed September 4, 1999.

  § ThemesAmazing Grace” (words by John Newton, 1779), atheism, de Sade (Donatien Alphonse François, Comte de Sade aka Marquis de Sade, French novelist, notorious for his tales of sexual gratification through infliction of pain, 1740-1814), old age, politics, poverty, religion, reputation, revenge, sadism, sanity, sex, theism, tradition, wealth, youth.

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Page mounted September 3, 1999, and updated October 2, 1999, by the site Webmaster.

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