Theater-goers can soon enter the mind of horror and mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe.
This weekend, Dickinson High School drama students will perform “Poe: Dreams of Madness” by Allysa Hyne under the direction of new drama teacher, Josh Kralicek.
“Basically, (the play) is a collection of short stories written by Poe, adapted to a stage format,” Kralicke said. “It has sort of this overarching plot line about Poe as an author, about his writing process, having a bad night and remembering all sorts of traumas going on in his life. It kind of weaves in how so much of his stories are inspired directly from things in his life.”
Poe’s life is one marked by tragedy. He was abandoned by his real father and disowned by his foster father. His mother, foster mother and wife died of illness, two of which were attributed to tuberculosis. He incurred gambling debt, became an alcoholic and died under mysterious circumstances.
Senior Dallen Schuetzler, already a fan of Poe, plays him in the production.
“I just try to get into that gloomier mindset of gloom and death and destruction that he has when writing his stories … I think of his poems and stories and there’s another author, H.P. Lovecraft, (who) also rights horror-esq stories, so I also read some of those,” he said.
Schuetzler’s favorite scene is one about Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
“I feel like Rodrick Usher has much of the same mindset of Poe. All of these things are happening to him that are just doom and gloom, like in Poe’s life,” he said.
Kralicek gave the senior students four options from which to choose.
“I think they saw an excerpt of it at competitive drama, and they were pretty impressed with it,” he said. “They were just drawn to the concept in general. Kids tend to like dark and gloomy.
Although he has acted on and off for 10 years, Kralicek said his new position has had a bit of a learning curve.
“I’m really tapping into a lot of my students’ expertise,” he said. “I’m pretty knowledgeable (with the) tech side and acting side, but set design was really hard for me. I try to find who’s good at what and get them in. It’s been very much a team process.”
The play itself comes with some challenges.
“What’s kind of challenging with this play is there’s no scene breaks,” Kralicek said. “It’s constant through the whole show. New characters are kind of just brought on by other characters. There’s very slight scene changes. Most of it is just suggestive, not by the play itself, but just kind of how it’s written. It’s been challenging, but at the same time, a little bit freeing to be confined to that one space the whole time.”
Schuetzler thinks Kralicek has been up to the challenge so far.
“I think he’s doing a really good job, actually, especially for his first play. He’s given us all the direction we need, and he’s adapting well to all this new stuff,” he said.
The group will perform the play in the school's auditorium on Nov. 22 and 23 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 2 pm. Admission is $5 for students and $8 for adults. The play is produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service, Inc. in Denver, Colorado.