The persecution and assassination of Jean Paul Marat is a play written by Peter Weiss , it shows a group of mental patients making a play about the last days of Jean Paul Marat and how he gets murdered, I first watched this play performed by “Ba theater group” in 2016 and I liked it so much that I Went to see it again !
The main aspect of the play is showing the philosophical arguments between Jean Paul Marat and Marquis De Sade about Revolution,death , nature , existence,sex and some other matters.
One other aspect is the romance between two characters that they already know it’s fate.
The play has a three level base , on one level Peter Weiss wrote a play which in second level has some patients acting as historic characters which is the third level
And we see reactions from all three levels at the same time , we see the revolutionary hearts (third level), the anti-revolutionary heads of post revolution(second level) and the anti-modernism of Peter Weiss (first level)
There’s a question which cannot be avoided, why mental patients? Do they represent the fact that every different thinkingggg are considered mentally ill? Do they show the reality of mentally tired society of the Marat/Sade situation of the French society after revolution? Or they are to show how none of the French society was totally free and of responsibility to what they do and don’t? Or is it just another anti-modernism by Peter Weiss to show how mental patients and different thinking are tried to be of some sort of jailed?
One of the characters (Corday) is the one to kill Marat , but Peter Weiss chose a patient who has sleeping problem, only wakes up when she has something to say or someone to kill , in my view she is she can be the people , those who believe in the last war or a war to end all wars , as she thinking if she killed Marat she on one hand took revenge and on the other hand ends the massacre which took place by Marat’s orders , she takes a knife and stabs a man , no feelings no second considerations , a young girl from Caen knows she will die if she killed Marat , yet she does kill Marat is she really the same as the people of the corrupt French society? Who would turn their beloved ones in just to keep themselves safe.
A really important point to focus on is Sade’s argument about death , he thinks death is simply overrated, and that death just like birth is a part of a cycle , he thinks if we wipe out the entire human race nature would give no importance to it , he believes that death is nothing but a man going into another phase of natural cycle .
Then later he talks about murder , he thinks murders before the revolution were better , he says that murders with torture had a more touching view, he hates the modern murders in which a person dies in a blink of an eye , this gives us the perspective that he only feels alive through feeling the human flesh , which he later admits “this is the world of bodies”. He wants Corday to hit him as hard as she can , he wants to feel the pain , he wants to see his own blood so he can feel alive , he wants to feel everything as a physical object only to feel alive about it.
Throughout the play there’s a general hatred towards humans , almost all the characters hate the animal side of humans and they never hesitate to show that hatred, Sade thinks humans are dishonest animals , Marat thinks humans are animals to be tamed and so on..this animal view of humans makes the play more realistic for it’s time-set , as in post-revolution times humans specially in France, were nothing but barbaric animals , killing, betraying, eating and having sex.
Even both main characters Marat and Sade, they both desire violence in different ways for different reasons.
Marat wants violence to end the previous ruling system and to tame the people also to keep the revolution safe from betrayal.
But Sade wants violence to feel alive , he wants pain , blood , torture and sex only to feel the humans flesh getting ripped off and sliced and burned.
These violent desiring characters always show only one common point of view , they all know that “these violent delights have violent endings” , Marat knows he will get killed , Corday knows she will get beheaded , Sade knows one day he will no longer feel the human flesh as an object to feel alive.
One thing not to forget is the musical parts of the play , the songs and the chorus are speaking really emotional, they defend Marat when he’s attacked , they ask for their rights when they feel oppressed, they say what the normal society feels when talking about the new leaders and how corrupt they are , the songs are true emotions of the lower classes of people , they are what every oppressed French person had felt after revolution.
There’s one part when they’re in the National Assembly, the people are randomly speaking “down with Marat” “down with Robspierre” “down with Danton” and so on.. They show how diverse the French society was at that time , also how people are driven by speeches and talks of the leaders as some of them change their opinions, how people are unstable and changed every time a leader speaks to them.
In the play there’s a certain mocking of “future” which means the present time for Peter Weiss but the future for the characters, Weiss talks about his time in a way to warn the characters of what’s waiting to humans later on , he wrote the play in the post World War II times and he saw the nuclear bombings , tanks and guns , so he made one of the characters say “there will be weapons which will kill thousands of you together ” this shows how Weiss hates the modern military actions , how he hates human activities in the modern era , but he also brings people like Voltaire into the play making fun of what science got to in the 20th century, which shows that no matter who the people are , they will always see future as a joke before actually getting to future.
Overall a really amazing play and beautifully set , one of the best plays I ever watched and read.