Poe’s works come to life at the Playhouse
In getting ready for the spirit of the scare that comes with Halloween, the Aiken Community Playhouse Youth Wing presents “Night Chills.” Four of Edgar Allen Poe’s terrifying tales come together under one roof at the ACP Black Box, Bechtel Experimental Theatre beginning Oct. 19.
Narrated by Poe, the show features “The Tell Tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Purloined Letter.” And in a first for the ACP, each tale will have its own director.
“This is a unique situation, we haven’t done this before with multiple directors,” said coproduction manager Jennifer Gibbons. “It’s an October show, so we chose something that’s a little dark. It fits our Halloween theme.”
Bradley Watts just wrapped as director of “Wizard of Oz” and is back at work already, directing “The Tell Tale Heart.” The story is told by a narrator who tries to convince the audience of his sanity after committing murder.
“For a while it’s just been my cast and me, this is kind of a collaborative effort,” Watts said. “This is my favorite Poe story so getting to put in on stage is just wonderful. And getting to work with Marcia (Harris), one of my mentors, has been great.”
Harris is directing “The Cask of Amontillado.” It tells the story of the narrator’s revenge on a person whom he feels insulted him gravely.
“These kids really know what they’re doing,” Harris said. “They have done marvelously. I think they were astonished when the pieces and parts came together and came together so nicely.”
“The Purloined Letter,” directed by Mary Clare Millies, is a story of a Duchess having a letter from a former admirer stolen and calling on Detective Dupin to investigate.
“I love working with the Youth Wing and it just sounded like an interesting project,” Millies said. “It’s a little bit different from the other three ... This is the funny piece. There’s a lot of humor in it.”
The final piece is led by first-time director Lisa Kirschner, who is no stranger herself to the ACP stage. “The Fall of the House of Usher” tells the tale of the narrator helping a friend with a dire problem.
“I’ve known them as a stage manager and actor, so I do know them a little bit,” Kirschner said of her cast. “They’re working so hard to make me look good. They’re a fantastic group of kids and they amaze me every day.”
The stories for “Night Chills” are by Edgar Allan Poe and the introductions and staging is by Billy St. John.
Chris Walsh is the arts and entertainment reporter for the Aiken Standard. He graduated from Valdosta State University and hails from Atlanta.
Play Title: Night Chills: Tales of Terror by Edgar Allan Poe
Adapted by Billy St. John
Not suitable for very young children.
Directed by: Jennifer Gibbons, Marcia Harris, Lisa Kirchner, Mary Claire Millies and Bradley Watts
An ACP Youth Wing Production
October 19, 20, 26 & 27th at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21st and Sat. Oct. 27th at 3 p.m. in the Black Box, Bechtel Experimental Theatre, inside the ACP.
Tickets: Adults: $10, Students: $7
Location: Aiken Community Playhouse
URS Center for the Performing Arts
126 Newberry St. Aiken, SC 29801
Information: Call (803) 648-1438 or log on to www.aikencommunityplayhouse.com