Vulcanello Productions presents a celebration of the works of cult American Horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft.
Building on the success of productions such as Hidden Basement’s “Shadow Over Innsmouth” and Vulcanello’s own genderswitched “Mountains of Madness” at the London Horror Festival, this week-long event showcases seven different shows, including two world premieres, for fans of Cthulu, tentacled horrors, creeping insanity from other dimensions, and other lightly baked elements of the Lovecraft Mythos.
Among the works of Lovecraft adapted for this event are: The Shadow Over Innsmouth (in two versions: one interactive, one comedy), The Thing on the Doorstep, At The Mountains of Madness, and Pickman’s Model. Inspired from the mythos (of things creeping into our world from beyond) is “The Dead, LIve;” and for something completely different there is a live, audience-inspired horror improvisational group, “The Society of Strange.” Each show will be on for two performances, except for “The Dead, Live” which is Sunday matinee only. Participating companies are: The Other Realm, Vulcanello Productions, Hidden Basement Productions, Scytheplays Limited, Raising Ashes Theatre, and Extempore Theater. Each show is approximately one hour long making it easy to have a double-header night of theater.
“The fans made it clear they want more,” says festival founder T..L Wiswell.” Lovecraft is fun to watch on stage. And for people who make theater AND love the mythos, this is a great chance to geek out like there’s no tomorrow. There are several Lovecraft conventions in the US, such as NecronomiCon and CthuluCon … I was sure there was enough support in London to justify six straight nights of this. It’s not really going to get the Donmar audience but we know the fans are out there, occasionally masquerading as a part of human society.”
7:00 PM: Raising Ashes’ “A Nightmare in Ashcroft” – World Premiere
9:00 PM: The Society of Strange – Audience inspired improv horror by members of Showstoppers, the Improvised Musical
7:00 PM: Vulcanello Productions’ “The Thing on the Doorstep: Asenath’s Tale” – World Premiere
9:00 PM: The Other Realm’s “Pickman’s Model”
10:00 PM: Special appearance by Cthulu himself, doing his lounge act (as channeled by Tom Baker) – free with tickets to Pickman’s Model
7:00 PM Saturday and 6:00 PM Sunday: Vulcanello Production’s genderswitched “Mountains of Madness”
9:00 PM Saturday and 8:00 PM Sunday: Hidden Basement’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”
3:30 PM Sunday ONLY: Scytheplay’s The Dead, Live
Additional information on the world premiere plays:
The festival opens with a world premiere, Raising Ashes’ Theatre’s “A Nightmare in Ashcroft,” at 7 PM 6-7 February (two nights) They describe it as follows:
“Something strange is going on in Ashcroft Collier (Tyne and Wear, England). Inspector LeGrasse has been tasked with the interrogation of some of the more “reasonable” inhabitants of a small shipping town, as part of wider police proceedings. But all is not as it seems. Are the audience really who they claim to be, what are the motives of the helpful Reverend Heath, and what are these dreams the inspector keeps having, and how are they linked to this small shadowed town?
“Our immersive production, loosely based on A Shadow Over Innsmouth, makes the audience members unwitting members of Cthulhu’s cult. They’re all in on it, and all intent on driving Abigail LeGrasse to the brink of madness. We hope to implicate the audience so much that they join in the final chant; Cthulhu F’htagn!
“H.P. Lovecraft once supposed that mankind’s greatest fear, was the fear of the unknown, the creeping dread so familiar to his ill-fated protagonists, the horror that overwhelms. and it is this uncertainty and lurking fear we would like to instil in the audience in our immersive production.We hope to truly unsettle, but also to give vent that excitement which many Lovecraft fans have about being members of a conspiracy or cult (of Cthulhu for example).”
Also making its premiere at the festival is “The Thing on the Doorstep,: Asenath’s Tale,” T.L. Wiswell’s second Lovecraft adaptation. “I started tinkering with gender in Lovecraft two years ago. Lovecraft himself didn’t really write stories about women, but I wanted to see more women on stage so I thought, pfft, he’s out of copywright, let’s show the old misogynist how we do it in the 21st century. I also thought, as a fan, there was surely enough flexibility in the stories to accept change without stretching them too far and ‘Mountains of Madness’ proved this easily. A female led expedition to the Antarctic? Why not? And, unlike Guillermo del Toro, I actually got my production made.
I was inspired by the quality of the women who auditioned for Mountains … there is just so much talent out there … and I wanted to make another play with female protagonists, but just a two hander. I settled on “The Thing on the Doorstep,” which as written is narrated by a man, Daniel Upton, with a weak willed pal, Edward Denby. Denby is interested in the occult and, well, he marries the daughter of a necromancer. Asenath Waite is a minor character in the story, but I became intrigued by her. What would it be like to grow up as an only child with your father constantly telling you you weren’t good enough because you were a girl? What would that do to you? And as I started thinking about Asenath, I started thinking about what her best friend would be like, and what it would be like to get married to someone just to please your parents. Before I knew it, I had written a very different story. I’ve tried to follow the original plot of “Doorstep,” but it’s been turned inside out, because what I needed to do in the end was make a good play, not adhere strictly to Lovecraft’s work. Essentially what I’ve done is add to the mythos. I’m planning on writing a short story that is truly “Asenath’s Tale” that goes up to the point in “The Thing on the Doorstep” where Asenath dies so they whole thing can fit together seamlessly for hard-core Lovecraft purists.
“As it’s turned out, I have actually cast this play from the “Mountains” team, so if you come Thursday or Friday to “Asenath’s Tale,” you can see two of the performers (Natalie Morgan and Erin Wilson) who will be doing Mountains of Madness on Saturday and Sunday. We all expect to be exhausted by Monday, but I’ve got rooms booked in Arkham Asylum for the five of us (including Cathy Conneff, who’s playing the lead in Mountains).”