And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore – The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe
I’ve been on the lookout for my next adaptation project. Trying to sniff it out. I love creating theatre versions of works in other genres. They’re always a challenge; it’s so much more than taking some words out of a novel and plunking them into play form. Adaptations require a lot of balance. It’s important to uphold the intention of the original work, and at the same time making sure it’s truly a theatrical exploration. An interesting walk across a tightrope which can take many tries to figure out.
Originally, I thought about Hunchback of Notre Dame – I saw a production ten years ago that used puppets and mask in a way that I’ve always known would work well in schools. It’s a good piece to incorporate theatricality and physical movement.
But on my last travel trip, I explored a new phone app which allows you to download public domain books. And they have a high school reading list section. And in there, a ton of Edgar Allen Poe.
I have had a vague relationship with Poe. I’m most familiar with The Raven, and The Telltale Heart as is everyone else. I know there’s one where a guy gets walled up in a catacomb, there’s one with a pit and a swinging razor thing, there’s people being buried alive, and death and gore and other eerie stuff.
But after a week of reading piece after piece, story after story….I am really excited about working on Poe.
First of all the guy is wacko. His work is wacko. There is some deeply disturbing stuff. There’s a man eating worm, and a guy who de-teeths a girl who’s been buried alive. IT’S AWESOME! There is an horror filled imagination that really few teen scream blood soaker modern movie can hold a candle to. But further to that, there’s some really funny pieces. Have you ever read Lionizing? Or The Devil in the Belfry? Me neither, till now. Poe was a rather sarcastic fellow, which is right up my alley. I love being surprised at the variety in tone in his work.
So, what’s next? Reading, reading and more reading. Making sure I understand every word (That Poe, he done uses the fancy big words). Finding the theatrical door to every piece. Figuring out the through-line, the connector between pieces.
I’m ready to get back on the tightrope.