As I said in my blog post yesterday, this month, in the spirit of Haloween, I’m going to focus on events that have a dark, morbid or slightly twisted bent to them. I talked a little about Grand Guignol theater yesterday and today I want to focus on events that feature one of the best-known authors of the macabre: Edgar Allen Poe.
Of course, one can’t think of dark storytelling without thinking of Edgar Allen Poe. When one examines Poe’s life, it’s not hard to see why he was drawn to the morbid: his mother died when he was young and his father abandoned the family, his wife died of tuberculosis at the age of 25 and he died at 40. The prevalence of death in his life might explain his fascination with death, premature burial, decomposition and the reanimation of the dead and his choice to pursue a career through writing alone, which pretty much guaranteed an existence of poverty and hardship. However, despite a life of relative obscurity and financial insecurity, today he is credited with inventing detective fiction, being a major contributor to the emerging science fiction genre and for being one of the earliest short story writers. And, of course, one can’t get through any Halloween season without hearing “The Raven” recited or quoted at least once. So, while in life he suffered, in death he is celebrated, revered and remembered fondly.
We have a few events this month celebrating the work of Poe.
Poefest in Phoenix, Arizona, started last night and is running through Halloween. The show promises to present “the works of Edgar Allan Poe in a chilling new way” and features performances of Poe classics “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart, ” “Hop-Frog,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “Annabel Lee,” “The Black Cat” and “The Premature Burial.” Click the link above for tickets.
In New York City, Gutterdrunk: The Poe Revisions brings audiences into the mind of Poe with a mixture of theater, performance art and live music. Their tagline says “GUTTERDRUNK explores the hysterical and haunting effects of alcohol on actor, character and author in a way that tests the limits of theatrical experience.” Poe was an infamous drunk and while the cause of Poe’s death are unknown, many attribute his untimely demise to his affection for alcoholic beverages. Opening night for Gutterdrunk is Thursday, October 20th and it’s running until the 30th of this month and you can pick up tickets by clicking the link above.
There are four other Poe-related event happening on Halloween weekend. First up is An Evening with Poe at the Neighborhood Arts Center in Pemberton, New Jersey which will feature family-friendly readings of Poe’s work in a vintage firehouse. There will be two shows, one on Friday, October 28 and one on Saturday, October 29. Then the Bedlam Ensemble out of New York City presents The Delirium of Edgar Allen Poe, which promises “unique dramatizations of his chilling compositions focusing on the most grotesque fragments of human behavior” through a mix of live music, dance and poetry. Opening night is Friday, October 28 and that will run every weekend until Sunday, November 13. Also starting on Friday, October 28 is Watertown Children’s Theater’s presentation Poe! Poe! Poe! in Watertown, Maryland, where Poe’s world will be brought to life by a cast of 6th to 9th grade actors. And, finally, on Saturday, October 29, New Edgecliff Theater in Cincinatti, Ohio will present Sweet Suspense: Poe-sessed which will feature productions of “The Oval Portrait” and “The Masque of the Red Death” in the style of a radio drama with live sound effects and the atmosphere of an old-time radio theater.
If you’re a fan of Poe’s work or are curious to explore more about this fascinating American author, check out one of these event. This is the month to do it!