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Playing Around in Creepsville

April 29, 2012

Feeling dramatic in Much Ado About Nothing, 2007

In the past three years I’ve published a novel, an edition of a Victorian vampire story, two academic essays (with a possible third coming up), and a fistful of short fiction and poetry. I’ve also written and narrated two short horror films and made plans for a third. I’m currently over halfway through my next novel, and have plot sketches for two more laid out. I’m working on an essay about Charles Dickens and Joe Strummer which I’m hoping to finish this month. So, obviously, looking at the level of production I’ve put myself under over the past thirty-six months, the natural question that arises is this: why haven’t I written a play?

I love theatre, have a degree in it actually, and even though acting is fun (see pic at left), I always preferred directing. I got to direct The Importance of Being Earnest at UMary in 2008, and it was loads of fun. I haven’t done that since, due to various other commitments, but I’m up for it again this year. I’ll be directing the fall theatre production at UMary, and I can’t wait.

Me with the cast of Earnest, 2008

So what to direct? I had a blast working with the highbrow silliness of Wilde, and then spent a while writing a novel steeped in a very similar type of silliness. I want to go in another direction with this production, and those who know me will know there’s really only one other place to go: creepsville.

There’s a dearth of creepy plays, unfortunately. I’ve looked at several good ones (Wait Until Dark, The Woman in Black, Transylvanian Clockworks, The Haunting of Hill House, Macbeth), but none of them quite fit the bill for a variety of reasons. I may direct Woman in Black or Hill House in the future, if the university ever improves its theatre space (which was designed by folks who clearly never did theatre or music). For now though, I gonna write my own.

So that’s a heads up. I’ll probably be occasionally talking about the play here, working through important process issues like “why did I think I could write a play?” And important technical issues like “how can I make the walls bleed in a believable manner?”

The production will go up in November. So the summer will involve finishing the next novel (Charley Cross and the London Dead, presently a little over half done) and writing a play. The play is sketched out already, inspired by a small but unsettling event that happened to my wife and I a decade ago. It has been embellished beyond that small event into something that doesn’t resemble me or my family at all (thank Dickens), but instead is about loneliness, alienation, dead children, lost graves, real estate, and the things you can find at the bottom of a river. No title yet, but some pun on the word “grave” is likely. My hope is that the whole thing feels like the video for a Tom Waits song directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Or at least that it doesn’t suck. Stay tuned.

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