Poltergeist, a Musical Parody – early reflections from one of the co-writers
A classic trademark of every good horror film is the iconic image. The disturbing vision that lodges in your brain with the force of a bullet. The sight you wish you could rewind time and un-see. In The Exorcist it is Regan crab walking backwards down the staircase, in Psycho it is Marion’s pupil shrinking to black with the shower drain, the eyes of Rosemary’s baby, the waterfall of swine’s blood drenching Carrie White. It is these images that haunt us for years, triggering terror. Poltergeist carries many for me. I first saw Spielberg’s film over a decade ago and to this very day television static makes my hair stand on edge.
Herein lies the power of cinema, an intensity that some would say is lacking on stage. I challenge that, and go further to suggest that those images are exactly what makes adapting film to stage so irresistibly enticing and powerfully entrancing.
When a playwright begins a work very often it is a single image that lights the fire in their mind and heart. For Poltergeist mine is the dining room chair distortion.
It is a brief moment, a matter of seconds, in which nature is horribly inverted.
It is the first image we see that informs us that something is seriously wrong. All our human feelings tied to a home – our sense of ownership, security, and control are mere illusions - blinding us.
Question is how are we going to be able to portray the surreal, physic defying actions of the ghosts on a stage where the actors are literally only a few feet away from the audience? What tricks can we pull without an elaborate special effects team and camera angles and cuts on a shoe string budget?
Consider this, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” ― H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature. As children our fears consisted of the monsters under our beds, the unseen ghosts in our closets, the darkness.
You cannot even begin to imagine the horror we are about to bring to the Dog Story Theater this October!