Sara Whale, assistant professor of dance at BW, spent her summer working on “Marginalia: Interplay with Edgar Allan Poe,” a compilation of Poe’s works, adapted for the stage.
“The premise is to be able to expose the audience to several different styles of Poe’s work,” says Whale. “He didn’t just write macabre horror stories. He also wrote comedies, he wrote a lot of poetry.”
Many people know of Poe’s macabre horror stories, especially “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” and “Annabel Lee,” all of which will be portrayed in Whale’s adaptation.
There are also many of Poe’s lesser known works, like “Alone” and “Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences.”
Stage manager Alexandra McMahon said, “Sara Whale has put together a lot of different pieces from [Poe] to try and show a diversity in his work so it’s not just the doom and gloom that a lot of people associate with his work.”
“There’s definitely a comedic aspect in parts of the work we’ve chosen to portray from Poe,” said McMahon.
This upcoming production is part of the theatre department’s lab series, where directors are given no technical support and no budget.
“I love that challenge,” said Whale. “It forces me to be more creative. We are going to use recycled paper as our one and only prop. I’ve been collecting it for two months.”
The production is also part of a “testing ground” that’s been running for two years.
“We started last year with a Yeats piece, “Two Plays for Dancers,” and then Poe this year, and it seems to be successful,” said Whale.
The testing ground combines the theatre department and the dance department in productions to give dancers more performing opportunities and actors more dance opportunities.
“All of the cast will get credit for contributing to the choreography,” said Whale. “They make movement for themselves based on specific parameters that we’ve given them.”
McMahon also said that the show is “more of a collaborative process.”
Whale hopes that combining movement with Poe’s text “illustrates the text, but not in a pantomimic way. In a way that complements it, but also adds to it, and perhaps allows audiences to understand the work a little bit more.”
“Marginalia: Interplay with Edgar Allan Poe” opens on Halloween, Oct. 31 and runs through Nov. 2 with shows at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Kleist box office or at bw.edu/events/.