Theater By the Book, a series of informal play readings for the community co-presented by Sierra Stages and the Miners Foundry Cultural Center, returns for its second season, Wednesday, with a special reading of “Evermore,” written by Gary Wright, directed by Sands Hall and features local actors Grace Fae and Jimmy McCammon.
The tales of Edgar Allan Poe have fascinated and frightened readers for decades. This version of “Evermore” is written by local author and former Foothill Theater Company Associate Artist Gary Wright. It tells the spellbinding story of how Poe came to write “The Raven” and what changed him from a devil-may-care romantic into a haunted madman.
Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, but he made his living as America’s first great literary critic. Poe’s reputation today rests primarily on his tales of terror as well as on his haunting lyric poetry.
Just as the bizarre characters in Poe’s stories have captured the public imagination so too has Poe himself. He is seen as a morbid, mysterious figure lurking in the shadows of moonlit cemeteries. This is the Poe of legend. But much of what we know about Poe is wrong, the product of a biography written by one of his enemies in an attempt to defame the author’s name.
Local audiences may remember the original performance of “Evermore,” which was produced in 2007 by Foothill Theatre Company.
Wright exhibits a scholar’s knowledge of his topic, each character is richly written, the prose is witty and entertaining, and he skillfully incorporates portions of the acclaimed author’s own works, including “The Haunted Palace”, “The Masque of the Red Death”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “Ulalume”, “The Bells”, and “Annabel Lee” into the play. Evermore concludes with a riveting recitation of “The Raven” that will haunt audiences long after they leave the building.
“Evermore” is Sands Halls first time directing a reading for Theater By the Book. She is an award-winning author, director, actor, writer and musician, who like Wright, was also a former Associate Artist with Foothill Theatre Company. She now divides her time between Nevada City and Lancaster, Penn., where she is a professor of Creative Writing at Franklin and Marshall College. Hall selected “Evermore” because of Wright’s compelling script that she knew would be perfect for an informal reading in the Foundry’s Stone Hall. To hear “Evermore” read aloud by accomplished and trained orators showcases both Wright and Poe’s exquisite prose and superb
storytelling, and allows audiences to use their imagination to be transported to the dark and romantic world of Poe.
The next Theater By the Book is scheduled for April 16 at Miners Foundry and features the play “Souvenir” directed by Sandra Rockman. “Souvenir” is the true story of Florence Foster-Jenkins: a New York socialite whose tin ear couldn’t keep her off the stage at Carnegie Hall. Seen through the eyes of her beloved accompanist,
Souvenir is a touching and comic tribute to Ms. Jenkins’ deep love of music and complete lack of talent.