The TruNorth Theatre presents
THE TURN OF THE SCREW
By Jeffery Hatcher, Based upon Henry James Novella
Presented through Special Arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
Originally workshopped and developed at
Portland Stage Company's 6th Annual Little Festival of the Unexpected.
Originally produced by Portland Stage Company in January 1996,
Greg Leaming, Artistic Director,
Tom Werder, Managing Director.
Originally produced in New York City by Primary Stages Company,
Casey Childs, Artistic Director in March 1999.
This is attempt 1,985 at writing a well formed and logical director's note. That being said, I make no promises. This show has evolved to the final product you are about to see. While things like the set and the actors have been around mostly since day one, (hard to do a show without a cast), it is interesting to me to see how this show has grown. Sometimes a show finds its feet on day one. Other times, it’s when the costumes are finally added. For this show, there were always moments where things were very clearly there; the through line, the intentions, etc, but something was not quite clicking. For this show it was the addition of sound and lights that made it start to come alive.
We began our design process by asking a question as a team: “can we mix the lighting style of the late 19th century with the technical savvy and sound reproduction possible using today's technology?” It is my hope that to you the general audience the answer will be that, yes, this form of story fits well into this “Gotham by Gaslight” aesthetic.
What we found out relatively quickly is that a good horror play is hard to produce. Thanks to, (and I don't mean this derogatively in any way), people like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and even Dan Akyrod, (Ghostbusters is terrifying to a young child…in a fun way). The spectacle of the larger than life “silent shape”, as they call Micheal Myers, the mind bending dream killer that is Freddy Krueger and yes, even the Staypuft Marshmallow Man, has by and large desensitized us, as a collective society. It can be a fight to engage an audience with a horror play when they are used to seeing things like Cary Ewles sawing off his own leg in order to survive in a film like Saw.
With the exception of the Gran guignol, few, if any theatrical shows can match the sort of shocking violence found in modern cinema. If you are a diehard horror fan, seriously, check out the Gran guignol- they did everything you could possibly think of in their horror plays: they melted people on stage, electrocuted them, burned them at the stake, they even had a replica of the French National Razor (the guillotine) they would use for life like beheadings in the stage plays they produced. I am getting a bit off topic (actually a lot off topic), suffice to say that they were innovators that led the way (they produced plays from about the turn of the century to the 1960s) and many of the special effect methods they used have been lost to time. For more information click on this link to a BBC article: https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20190304-why-the-grand-guignol-was-so-shocking
Yet, despite our desensitization, the one thing all good plays and films do is to tell a well crafted story. Atleast, the initial installments of these franchises do, before giving it up to the spectacle and the gore bloat that was films like Halloween 4, Friday the 13 part 5, and Ghostbusters 2.
At the heart of this retelling of Henry James novella, is an old fashioned horror story, based around a simple premise; to what ends would a woman go to save children from demonic spirits? It has all the characteristic jump scares, bumps in the night, ghosts and so on that one expects in a horror play. We have chosen to focus on the heart story. We try to keep a focus on the story with all of our productions. However, with a show like this it is narrative that drives the story. The important thing in the story anyways.
We could sit here and navel gaze at the true meaning of the original story, what the writer's intent was, and what kind of commentary is being offered up in this story by this American (werewolf) in London or, we can sit back relax and allow the season to engulf you and, hopefully, take you on a wild and fun ride throughout the English countryside in the hopes of saving the souls of two children…
Oh, one final note, for those of you who are watching this after Halloween, the horror season isn't really over. Not yet. You see, James’ novella had a prologue explaining that it was Christmas Eve and this story was being told by the narrator as a part of the tradition of telling ghost stories to celebrate the holiday. It turns out there is an entire genre of holiday related horror stories that the English This certainly explains why it, and Dickens' Christmas Carol, are so dark, despite being stories/shows written for and about the Christmas Season. ..so, on that note, Happy Halloween and sorry we started to celebrate Christmas so early this year.
Thanks again for coming, enjoy the show.
Woman - Ashley Shrenck
Man - Chris Koppinger
Directed by: Tim Rosin
Michele Oster Renner
Ethan Eberle and Bismarck/Mandan Parks and Recreation
Big Rig 105.9
Bismarck/Mandan Parks and Recreation
Brian and Roxanne Rosin
We would like to thank our Friends and Followers around the country who have donated their time, their advice, and have given to our various fundraisers over the past year:
Zach Christman Misti McClellan
Diane Similuk Clemo Erin Macleod
Shannon Bath Clemo Moira McNichols
Shawn L. Durr Janet Merriman
Karen Ellery Gary Minyard
Gwen Gautsch Dana Morrison
Vicki Greenleaf Todd Neal
David Harnois Trace Oakley
Timothy Haugh John Ogle
Christie Iverson Elizabeth Robinson
Dan Jackson Tina Sabuco
Barbara Brandt Kinter Denise Stevenor
Emily Kubischta Mitzi Petrick Sundheim
Eric Kubischta Catherine Twomey
Judy Kubischta Patrick K. Walsh
If you enjoyed the show, please let us know!
Better yet, please tell a friend or give us a mention on Facebook or instagram (@trunorththeatre)
We will see you in October for THE TURN OF THE SCREW!