Wednesday, January 21, 2009
One of Blackwood's best stories is the magnificent THE WENDIGO, written in 1908. On the surface, this is a classic story of man versus nature but on a spiritual level the story forces us to question our position and purpose in the universe, to wonder if perhaps there are some places, as the narrator says, that “no human foot was meant to trod.”
In this adaptation of THE WENDIGO, playwright Eric Sanders (Dread Awakening, f**kplays) has tried to preserve the almost unbearably tense atmosphere of Blackwood's story while injecting moments of stark and visceral terror. Sanders, along with director Matthew Hancock plan to create a world that envelops the audience so deeply that they almost feel the snow on their shoulders. Just as important as the surroundings, the show focuses on the five men trapped within this nightmare; for this is a moving story about people, shattered beyond belief by what they have experienced, trying to put their lives back together and move on.
Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) was one of the most influential and mysterious writers of the twentieth century. His works have had a profound impact on everyone from Stephen King to comic books to M. Night Shyamalan and The Blair Witch Project, but his name has been lost to the annals of history. Blackwood's prime interests were human psychology, the mystical and the supernatural. He explored in profound detail the effects that both real and 'perceived' extraordinary events have on the frail human psyche. A deeply spiritual man who rejected the simplicity of Christianity at an early age, Blackwood sought to evoke "spiritual terror" through his stories, to strike at the very core of what makes us human: how we define our universe and our place within it. He sought to terrify, but even more expressly, he sought to astound. The sensation of awe factors heavily throughout his life's work; he viewed the world through a lens of astonishing innocence and objectivity, often personifying places and supernatural phenomena just as vividly as his human characters. According to fellow horror legend H.P. Lovecraft, Blackwood reigns supreme as "the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere."
The production, produced by The Vagabond Theatre Ensemble, will play 16 performances at the Medicine Show Theatre at the Ensemble Studio Theater Building (549 West 52nd Street, 3rd Floor) February 5-28, Thursday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday matinees February 8 & 22 at 3pm with special performances Monday, February 9 & Wednesday, February 25 at 8pm. Tickets ($10) are available online at www.SmartTix.com or by calling 212-868-4444.
Listen to Broadway Bullet's interview with playwright Eric Sanders and producer Sarah Ann Masse here.