Man Who Laughs


by Debbie McMahon, based on the book by Victor Hugo

Set in early 18th Century, the story features the son of a condemned nobleman, Gywnplaine, sold by a king to child-traders who permanently disfigure him by carving a smile into his face (the 1920s film was inspiration for The Joker). The man whose deformed face bears “the stigmata of a laugh” becomes a clown. Virtue vs. vice, the grotesque vs. the sublime and a prophecy of the coming of Revolution are encompassed in this powerful and moving story.

In 2014, we presented a reading at the Mark Taper Auditorium of the Los Angeles Public Library. Since then, we have continued with private readings to continue to improve the script.

This highly theatrical and heavy movement based production will feature an ensemble of 12-15 actors playing forty characters, elaborate special effect make-up by the talented SFX desiger, David Brooke, and visual storytelling that merges highly stylized costumes, extensive puppetry, shadow play and projection. Grammy nominated composer, Tom Peters, is creating an original soundtrack. We intend to create a mobile production that can easily move venues.

See a brief intro video here:


The Grand Guignolers' The Man Who Laughs is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Grand Guignolers' The Man Who Laughs must be made payable to "Fractured Atlas' only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.


There are other ways to support the production via donations in time and kind. Feed the troupe during a night of our tech rehearsal. Donate or loan us supplies. Help with graphic design for print layouts. Buy an ad in the program. Help sell ads in the program. Sew. Do errands. Lend us rehearsal space. Make script copies. Help market and promote. Donate champagne or food for opening night party. Help run the party. Help us find the right venue. Contact us for our particular material needs