Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Shuddersome: Tales of Poe by Lindsay Price is a creepy, cross-curricular masterpiece with tons of flexibility, theatricality and a whole lot of fun.
The thumping of a heartbeat. The creek of a door. The howl of a bitter wind. The gong of a clock tower. The clang of alarm bells. The sound of beating wings getting closer and closer…
Specters, ghosts and ghouls come alive in this vivid theatrical adaptation of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works. Included are The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Masque of the Red Death.
Poe’s words rise from the page like corpses from the grave. Be careful. Do you hear that tap, tap, tapping?
1. Why did you write this play?
Adaptation is my favourite form of playwrighting and I love the creepy, scary, macabre stories of Edgar Allan Poe. I thought it was a perfect marriage.
Little did I know. This play was actually a huge challenge to write. Taking a piece of literature from one medium and transforming it into another, is not easy. Poe writes in a way where it’s the single reader’s imagination that takes charge of the interaction. The story lives in the mind of the reader. In a play, we can’t be inside everybody’s head at the same time. We need action and theatricality to do the work. It took over a year to find the right balance of staying true to Poe’s intention and creating a theatrical experience, but I’m really happy with the outcome.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
Death, Morality, Revenge, Jealousy, come to life from the page like corpses from the grave.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
The Shudders. They are Poe’s specters, ghosts and ghouls staring you down from every corner of the stage.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Watch the tone. If everything is played with the same creepy feeling, then the play is going to come across as one note. Which I know is not your intention!
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
I’m often told by teachers and students that this play is a challenge. It’s not easy stuff. But it’s a rewarding challenge. It’s creepy and cross-curricular which makes it great for classroom study. There is also a number of different of storytelling styles that offers student performers a wide variety of challenges. There’s even a humourous story! (Did you know Poe wrote comedies?)
6. Do you have any advice for people looking to perform this play online or socially distanced?
If you’re performing socially distanced, explore how the the isolation between characters impacts the creepy atmosphere of the storytelling. Light and sound will also be your best friends. The Raven would work very well with the different characters in their own areas of light. If you’re doing The Bells virtually, I’d suggest not using unison speaking and play with how the text sounds using individual speakers. Have fun with it! Explore different options, you won’t know if something works or not until you try.