A breviloquent* account of Sunday’s panel discussion with the creators of the Wicked Lit Halloween Theatre Festival
We had a great time moderating the Wicked Lit Q&A and book-signing at Dark Delicacies book store Sunday evening. Playwrites Jonathan Josephson, Paul Millet, Jeff G. Rack, Susannah Myrvold, and Trey Nichols read from their works, which have been published in three volumes (for sale here). We talked about the origins of the Wicked Lit Halloween Theatre Festival, along with the challenges of adapting classic horror literature into immersive theatre productions.
We were thinking of posting a transcript, but most of the topics have been covered in our previous interviews and podcasts: The goal to adapting short stories is taking something that works on the page because of mood, atmosphere, or ideas and turning it into a drama with relatable characters, who engage the audience. Balancing three short plays is tricky because audiences will see them in different order, making it impossible to build to climax; fortunately, the use of a wraparound story to connect the short plays compensates for this. Another challenge is diversifying the roles: Lovecraft never wrote about women, and Poe wrote about them only when they were dead, so sometimes it’s necessary to perform a sex change on the characters. Some more recent adaptations, such as Myrvold’s “The Ebony Frame” (from the story by Edith Nesbit) reach beyond the famous names in Gothic literature, in order to provide a little more variety, while Josephson’s “The Grave of Rashomon” and “Las Lloronas” reach into other cultural backgrounds for their inspiration.
Since the event was promoting the published plays, we focused mostly on the literary aspect of the work, but we did get into the practical difficulties of staging plays on the grounds of Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery, particularly the rainy night when all the electrical systems went down during the final performance of “Dracula’s Guest” in the graveyard. Like troopers, the cast went on, while the tech people provide illumination with handheld lights and improvised the sound effects (including wolf howls) vocally.
If you want to read and hear more behind-the-scenes stories about Wicked Lit, check out these links:
- 2011 Interview with Paul Millet
- 2013 Podcast-Video with Jonathan Josephson
- 2015 Podcast with Jeff G. Rack.
- 2016 Podcast with Jaime Robledo, Trey Nichols, and Bruce Gray.
- 2017 podcast with Darin Anthony (director Thoth’s Labyrinth), Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm (playwright, Liliom), and Sebastian Muñoz (director, The Damned Thing).
*Yes, I just learned this word today.