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Jack Studio Theatre - Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill - An Interview with Harriet Main

To bring Masque Of The Red Death & The Fall Of The House Of Usher to life who better than Harriet Main? 
Despite the hectic schedule she answered some of our questions...


What drew you to the project?
The opportunity to be part of the creative process in helping to devise the shows and develop our own characters.

What were you working on before?

I was covering an old acting job, working on a site-specific piece of theatre wearing a Georgian dress and a wig.


What is your role in the shows & how difficult is it juggling two very different styles?

In Masque Of The Red Death I play Lady Stephanie and in The Fall Of The House Of Usher I play Ceclia Usher. I actually haven't found it too difficult juggling the two styles as we have a different director for each piece and it is therefore easy to separate the two and put aside one show when the other director walks into the room.


Who is your favourite character?
Please don't make me choose! I love Cecilia for her playfulness, but I love how Stephanie takes you by surprise in her strength and grit (she's a lot more powerful than she appears!)



Which of the shows is your personal favourite and why?
Probably Masque Of The Red Death because there are so many layers and subtleties to the characters that we have worked on, making them very satisfying to play. I've also really enjoyed working on the choreography that Omar has included.

What are you up to next?
Taking a well-deserved holiday to Morocco with Mum!

The Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill runs at Jack Studio Theatre 6 - 24 June 2017 at 7.45pm


Jack Studio Theatre - Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill - An Interview with Nell Hardy


Wonderfully talented actress Nell Hardy is currently hard at work bringing Masque Of The Red Death & The Fall Of The House Of Usher to life.  

She took a break to answer some questions for us...


What drew you to the project?
I did a Hallowe'en show last year that took inspiration from another Poe story and I fell morbidly in love with the world his language creates - so when I saw flyers for this around the Brockley Jack while I was performing in 'Macbeth' here in June, I was really keen to come back to this lovely theatre and bring him to life again.


What were you working on before?

I was performing in 'Macbeth' right here at the Brockley Jack until days before the audition for this! I was also wrapping up a show I directed for my company of young actors of 16-19 at Jacksons Lane in Highgate.


What is your role in the shows & how difficult is it juggling two very different styles?

In 'Masque' I play Duchess Boleville, a man who dresses as a woman and is in love with Norelle, the army commander. In 'Usher' I play Madeline Usher, the sister of the main character who shares a family curse with him but is trying her hardest, against his wishes, to live a life independent of it

I don't think they are stylistically that different - thematically, narratively, yes, but Poe's world is very distinctive. They're very different characters and the through-line of each requires very different approaches, but I think the important thing is to stay true to playing the real people in the script rather than trying to 'be gothic'. Poe's style is profound enough to come through without being laboured: our job as actors is to tell the stories.


Who is your favourite character? 
I identify most with Madeline. But I also have a massive soft spot for Bristol! Honestly I don't 'like' anyone in 'Masque', but I kind of think that's the point!


Which of the shows is your personal favourite and why?
I prefer 'Usher' as a story because I love an intimate family drama, but I love what both of our directors have done with our scripts equally so I really couldn't pick. Luckily, we do both each night, so you don't have to pick either!
What are you up to next?
 I'll be starting rehearsals soon to play Hansel in Pandemonium Performance Company's adaptation of some of 'Grimm's Fairy Tales', which will take place in Abney Park from 12-30th July. It's an outdoor promenade show, I did two of them with that company last year and both were awesome so I'm looking forward to it!

The Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill runs at Jack Studio Theatre 6 - 24 June 2017 at 7.45pm


Jack Studio Theatre - Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill - An Interview with Simon James Collier

The Okai Collier Company keeps Simon James Collier pretty busy, but never one to shy away from a challenge he jumped at the chance to bring a double bill to the stage.

During a rare break we managed to get Simon to answer a few quick questions to give us some insight on such a big undertaking...


What drew you to the project?
I am a life-long fan of the horror genre, and in particular 'Gothic Horror', and there's no one quite like Edgar Allan Poe to truly capture the essence of what 'frightens us'. The challenge of a project like this is to successfully translate Poe's themes and ideas from the written word to a theatrical performance... something I think we've managed to do thanks not only to the original stories, but also to the input from the cast and creative teams, all of whom have worked tirelessly to bring Adam and I's scripts to life.


What were you working on before?

​I worked on a series of Gothic Horror productions (Frankenstein, The Corruption of Dorian Gray, Jekyll and Hyde and Dracula), all of which did extremely well... so it has been a joy to continue in this 'horror vein' with these two shows.


What is your role in the shows & how difficult is it juggling two very different styles?

I adapted 'The Masque of the Red Death' and have produced both that and 'The Fall of the House of Usher'. The challenge has been to put together an enthusiastic and committed team, to work simultaneously on two productions, in a limited amount of time with very little money. I am extremely optimistic about the final result, having been involved in and watched every step of the process from casting to final production​... it was a big ask of everyone and my gut feeling is that they've more than delivered.


Who is your favourite character? 
The Jester in 'Red Death'. I don't like clowns, or Jester's, so watching Anna Larkin bring this creepy character to life with director Omar F. Okai has been absolutely fascinating.​


Which of the shows is your personal favourite and why?
​I actually like both... 'Red Death' because of the visual spectacle and themes that it deals with... also the fact that all the characters in it are absolutely vile... and 'House of Usher' because of it's dark humour and high drama... there's something in both pieces for everyone.​
What are you up to next?
​ Another Edgar Allan Poe adaptation... this time 'The Raven', which I have adapted and am directing... it is going to be a part of The London Horror Festival 2017 and then have a run at The Etcetera Theatre in Camden.​

The Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill runs at Jack Studio Theatre 6 - 24 June 2017 at 7.45pm



Jack Studio Theatre - Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill - An Interview with Bethan Maddocks


This Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill is all about secrets and  who better to reveal the secrets of Bethan Maddocks than the lady herself?
 
We might be only days away from opening a ground breaking show but Bethan has kindly given us a little insight into the dual production.


What drew you to the project?
It is different to anything I've done before, and I think as an actor you're always eager to grab something that you feel will challenge you! As a performer who loves physical theatre, I was fascinated to see how it would be incorporated into the gothic style of these Edgar Allan Poe adaptations and excited to be part of the devising process.

What were you working on before?

I completed my third UK tour with Cats Pyjamas Productions, touring a variety of One-Woman musical shows, and most recently I finished work on short film Mending Wall with Pangean Productions, in association with The Poetry Foundation and Silhouette Films.


What is your role in the shows & how difficult is it juggling two very different styles?

I play Duchess Chantelle in Masque Of The Red Death and Bristol in Fall Of The House Of Usher - two completely opposing characters! The competition in this business is so high that you are required to fit yourself into a casting bracket and build your career out of that, but Okai Collier Company and Evcol Entertainment have given me the rare opportunity to play with different roles that I would not otherwise have the chance to do, and it's been great fun! The physical aspect of the work is what has helped me most in tackling these two styles. Duchess Chantelle holds herself in such a proud and controlled manner, completely contrasting with Bristol's 'jittering' low status style. It's honestly such a great lesson because it takes you back to basics, and that is what your whole training was built on.


Who is your favourite character? 
Ooh I couldn't possibly make a definitive choice! As a 21st century woman I can't help but be drawn to the very strong female roles that we have and Duchess Chantelle is definitely strong, but I do have a lot of love for Bristol and her comedic antics...poor Bristol!


Which of the shows is your personal favourite and why?
I've changed my mind about this every day during this rehearsal period. I find Fall Of The House Of Usher very Chekov-like and sometimes you despair when these characters refuse to help themselves. However you soon realise with this adaptation that it is never that simple - there are so many influences and emotions at play, Bristol's moral dilemma and final choice at the end being just one example. 
Masque Of The Red Death for me carries a strong political message that is so very prominent in our current climate, so I am perhaps swayed towards this a little more because it's so important to hear.
What are you up to next?
I will be going into rehearsals for a new devised production for the Edinburgh Fringe, based on the subject of Feminism (yes that's right, I said feminism!). I love the Fringe - it gives performers, writers, directors and companies the platform to create new and exciting work and gain the exposure that they might otherwise struggle to receive.

The Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill runs at Jack Studio Theatre 6 - 24 June 2017 at 7.45pm


Jack Studio Theatre - Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill - An Interview with Adam Dechanel



Writer Adam Dechanel took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about The Fall Of The House Of Usher.  

We caught up with him on set...


What drew you to the project?
The idea of a double bill. Working with this team again and bringing my own take to the pieces. It was my idea, for example, to make the two plays link together...

What were you working on before?
I had written reworkings of The Jungle Book, Dorian Gray, Frankenstein & Jekyll & Hyde.

What is your role in the shows & how difficult is it juggling two very different styles?
I'd say 'storyteller' is my role and this was indeed a challenge. Simon's writing style is vastly different from my own. To tackle not just our styles but the vastly different plays, we worked together to make one play the reason for the other. To ensure we could create that bond between two plays on a script level we went back to the original writings, listened to the radio plays and watched the films that had been made across the decades.
Each take was unique and we incorporated many elements... but our idea of a link that bridges the pieces made them work as one something that had never been done before.


Who is your favourite character?
It's so hard to choose!
Roderick has THE best lines, he steals the show to be honest. I think the audience will have a tough time figuring him out. Then again I love Winthrop, he's thrust into this world of Poe's design and he's completely bewildered by it but determined to stay true to himself and his hearts desire.
If I really have to choose... I'm going to have to say Roderick, simply because he will keep you guessing.


Which of the shows is your personal favourite and why?
I have to say Usher simply because it is something completely new. It isn't a dying man dictating his last moments to an old acquaintance any more. With the addition of Red Death and what the entire team have done, it has become a completely different animal while staying true to Poe's roots.

What are you up to next?
Am I allowed to say? OK, The Time Machine! I can't say more just yet or I'll spoil it!



The Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill runs at Jack Studio Theatre 6 - 24 June 2017 at 7.45pm