– by guest writer Stephen Mead –
George Bernard Shaw said “Imagination is the best scene-painter.” Sometimes people say they prefer radio to TV because the pictures are better. When you use your imagination to create a scene, stimulated by the words of a great writer, what you see in your head can be more vivid than what could be produced by sets, costumes, lights, and a cast of thousands, as we hope you will find when you see our show Murder on the Bare Stage.
I have been performing excerpts from literature, mostly from the Victorian era, in Britain and elsewhere for a number of years. In the 1800’s people had to make their own entertainment when they were at home as there was no radio or TV or Internet and so authors such as Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe made sure that their works would sound good when they were spoken. Public reciters of prose and poetry were also popular at that time.
By a stroke of great good luck, I moved to the Washington DC area a couple of years ago and met the writer Magus Magnus, who has written a book, “Idylls for a Bare Stage” in which he develops the ancient form of the Idyll – poetic monologues designed for performance – into a an accessible form of contemporary theatre.
Monologues are usually thought of as audition pieces for actors – but we are making monologues into the final theatrical experience. Magnus and I share the same goals as we discovered putting together this show – the actor, alone on the stage, uses the words to stimulate the audience’s imagination to create the scene in a shared imagining and thereby the different settings, the different people, the night, the day and so on become as vivid, or more so, than if they were presented concretely.
by Magus Magnus, plus classic writers such as Poe and Dickens
60 minutesat Mountain
at Caos on F
923 F Street NW
Washington, DC, 20004
Details and tickets
The program is a mix of original material by Magus Magnus – “A Bandit Plots a Murder by the Road”. “An Old Soldier Cleans His Rifle for the Last Time” (inspired by Walt Whitman, this piece by Magus Magnus will be included in the 11th edition of Pearson Longman’s English anthology textbook, “Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing) and “A Reveler Walks Home to His Family by Moonlight”.
Murder is the theme of the show, sometimes scary and dramatic, sometimes blackly comic, with other pieces by Shakespeare and a hysterical comic poem by Sir W S Gilbert, who wrote the words for the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Magus and I could not decide how to choose between a performance of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” or “The Murder of Nancy” from Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” as the centerpiece of the show, so performances will alternate between the two. At the first performance on July 12, I will perform “The Tell-Tale Heart”, vividly acted out from memory, the second performance on July 17 will have “The Murder of Nancy” instead and I will alternate back and forth between the two for the remaining five shows.
So in finding that we share the same goals, Magus Magnus and I have collaborated to bring you a gripping, sometimes funny, always unique entertainment Murder on the Bare Stage“.
Presented as part of the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, D.C. non-profit Capital Fringe.
– Stephen Mead is an actor, originally from the U.K., now living in the DC area. –
Fringe Peeks is part of our ‘in their own words’ series.