You are currently browsing the archives for the “theatre” tag.


Countdown to Mystery: Locked Doors

September 30th, 2020

A woman enters a room. Closes the door. Then, from inside, a voice cries “Murder!” When her father breaks down the door, he finds her bleeding on the floor. She is alone. The windows are barred. There is no other exit. Yet the perpetrator is gone!

And so begins The Mystery of the Yellow Room (Le mystère de la chambre jaune) by Gaston Leroux (1908), a novel considered by many to be one of the greatest locked-door mysteries of all time.

Over the years, some of mystery’s greatest writers have tried their hand at the subgenre, each attempting to outdo those who went before. Consider, for example, this locked-door scenario from the back cover of the 1983 Signet reprint of Ellery Queen’s The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934):

No one had seen the fat man enter the luxurious suite; no one knew his name. All his clothes were on him backward, and all the furniture around him was reversed. The room […] was locked from the inside, and aside from him, was empty. [And now …] the man was dead.

How can you not want to read that one? And if you’re a writer, how could you not want to play in that sandbox?

In this series of posts, I’ve been recommending mysteries that feature elements you’ll find tomorrow should you accept Prime Time Theatre’s invitation to join me for the first installment of A Knavish Piece of Mystery. The story features an eccentric detective in the mold of St. John Lord Merridew (Sleuth) and Hercule Poirot (Murder on the Orient Express); a sidekick who complements the qualities of that detective (Zero Effect), an ensemble cast (The Last of Shelia, Murder on the Orient Express), a writer who blurs the lines between life and fiction (Sleuth) and a locked-room puzzle (The Mystery of the Yellow Room, The Chinese Orange Mystery). The fun starts tomorrow at Noon. I hope you’ll join us then … or any time during the days that follow.

That’s one of the nice things about podcast theatre. You can attend at your convenience. Here’s the link.

In the meantime, click the link below to view a 1931 adaptation of the locked-door mystery The Speckled Band, based on a Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyal. It stars Raymond Massey (in his first starring role as a film actor) as the master sleuth and Athole Steward as his sidekick Dr. Watson.

Enjoy, then stop back tomorrow as we unlock the door to A Knavish Piece of Mystery.

Walking and Talking:
Things to Come in 2020

February 29th, 2020

“If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.” You know the expression. It’s all about the importance of doing, as in Death of a Salesman, where all-talk Willy Loman is amazed to learn that all-walk Bernard is going to argue a case before the supreme court.

“The Supreme Court!” Willy says. “And he didn’t even mention it!”

To which Bernard’s father replies, “He don’t have to – he’s gonna do it!”

Don Keefer reprising his Broadway role as Bernard in the 1951 film version of Death of A Salesman, with Fredric March as Willy Loman. IMDB.com

I find it helpful to remember that exchange when I fall behind on this blog. “I’m busy walking the walk,” I tell myself, even though there are folks out there who manage both.

A few years back, I did a blog post on “The Writer & Social Media,” in which I quoted Robert J. Sawyer (one of the first sf writers to have a blog) on the current state of author websites. “Almost all author webpages are appallingly hard to read, not updated, and lacking in current content,” Sawyer said. Now, to be fair, those qualities likely results from writers being busy writing stuff that pays. Nevertheless, to avoid being one of those guys with an out-of-date webpage, I’d like to take a moment to share some news about what I’ve got cooking for 2020.

Here’s a quick preview:

First up, hot off the presses, is Issue 12 of Unnerving Magazine, the publication that a recent review in Amazing Stories called a “must-read” for fans of the horror genre. The current issue includes a feature titled “My First Horror” with Cat Rambo, Daniel Kraus, and Richard Chizmar; an interview with the prolific William Meikle; and a roster of fiction that includes my story “Circle of Lias.”

“Lias” first appeared in Tom Montelelone’s Borderlands 4 back in 1994, and though it received good notice, it has only been reprinted once (in my collection This Way to Egress) until now. “Lias” is one of my personal favorites, and I’m thrilled to have it back in print.

Next, coming to earbuds everywhere, the popular horror-story podcast The Wicked Library will soon be launching its tenth season with a roster of all-new creepy tales.

Founded by writer and vocal performer Nelson W. Pyles, The Wicked Library’s stated mission is “to provide a showcase where you can find the work of the best existing and up-and-coming voices working in the world of Speculative Fiction and Horror.” The episodes are performed by a talented team of voice actors and produced by Daniel Foytik of 9th Story Studios, with musical scores by resident composer Nico Vetesse.

Each installment is available for free at The Wicked Library website, where listeners have the opportunity to access additional content by signing on as a patreon member. It’s money well spent.

Season 10 of The Wicked Library launches in March, and among the stories will be my new novelette “The Other Kind,” for which I’ll also be doing the audio narration. But there’s no reason to wait until then to become a listener. Dive in now, and you’ll be hooked when “The Other Kind” lands in your podcast queue. I recommend starting with Season 9’s “Cinnamon to Taste,” by Christi Nogle. Featuring a strong performance by Sara Ruth Thomas; it was my introduction to the series, and I’ve been a regular listener ever since.

And coming up in the journal Dissections, I’ll have a new essay titled “Existential Threats” in the forthcoming issue, which is scheduled to coincide with this year’s installment of The International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts to be held March 18-21 in Orlando, Florida. The essay presents what I trust is a timely consideration of two vintage short stories — Ray Bradbury’s “The Murderer” and Arthur C. Clarke’s “Dial F for Frankenstein.” Considered together, the stories present a dire warning for the world of 2020. I’ll share a link to the issue as soon as it’s available.

Also in the works is a U.S. edition of Nightmares. The Mexican release generated good notice when it made its debut at the SusteFest International Film Festival in Valle de Santiago last October. The new edition will contain the first U.S. publication of Mick Garris’s “Chocolate” (the story that became the basis for his Masters of Horror segment of the same name), the first English-language publication of a story by Sandra Becerril (one of Mexico’s bestselling horror writers), a gripping piece of psychological terror by Richard Christian Matheson, and the first-ever American reprint of one of my tales from This Way to Egress. We’re also working on including some special content that will be new to the American edition. I hope to have more to report on this one soon.

Until then … scop on!

Storytelling @ Riley’s Presents: Masks

October 25th, 2014

masksThis month at Riley’s we’ll be telling stories about masks. Think Halloween, theatre, deception, and the roles people play in everyday life. The theme is open to a variety of interpretations, and we’re looking forward to hearing yours.

If your interested in sharing a story, you can let us know by posting to our event page or signing up at Riley’s on the night of the event, October 28. We’re interested in told stories running approximately ten minutes, similar to the stories featured on Moth Radio.

Michael McBurney

Our featured guest this evening are members of The Throughline Theatre, storytellers who enthralled a standing-room audience back in June with their Stories from the Theatre.

Among the returning storytellers is Michael McBurney, whose previous story, “The Best Dr. Pepper I Ever Had,” made for one of this year’s stand-out story performances. An audio of that performance is available at a previous blog post and can be accessed by clicking here.

Michael is currently starring in Throughline’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. His previous shows with Throughline include Saving the World, Arsenic and Old Lace, and August: Osage County. He has also worked  with Alarum Theatre, the Duquesne Red Masquers and the Summer Company at Duquesne. We’re excited to have him back.

Lazel LeroyHazel Leroy studied Theatre History, Literature, & Criticism at University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Pittsburgh and currently teaches at Point Park University Conservatory of Performing Arts. Active in the city’s theatre scene, she has added her talents to a number of Throughline Theatre productions, among them the recent world premier of C. S. Wyatt’s A New Death.

In her previous appearance at Riley’s, Hezel shared a story about a George Bernard Shaw production that suffered (or perhaps benefited) from a major prop malfunction. You can year that story by clicking on the player below, and you can hear Hazel’s new story by attending this month’s Storytelling Night.

Pat HeadshotAlso joining us will be Patrick Conner, a member of the Board of Throughline Theatre Company who has served the company as both an actor and dramaturg for various productions over the past few years.  He graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park with a degree in English Literature, and served as a professor at West Virginia University for 34 years before his retirement in 2010.

This month will mark Patrick’s Storytelling Night debut, and we’re delighted to be welcoming him aboard.

Throughline TheatreIf all of this wasn’t inducement enough to attend this month’s Storytelling Night @ Riley’s, the evening will also feature two story monologues from Throughline’s current production, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. The monologues will be presented off-book (in the tradition of great storytelling), and each will center on the story of Judas Iscariot, who wore one of the most deceptive masks of all. The storyrtellers for this segment will be Amy Portenlanger and Kevin H. Moore.

Amy Portlenlanger

Amy Portenlanger has performed in six mainstage production with Throughline,among them August Osage County, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, and Arsenic and Old Lace. She currently plays the roles of Gloria and Mother Teresa in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

She has also performed with several other companies around Pittsburgh, including The Cabaret at Theater Square, South Park Theater, Terra Nova, The Steel City Improv Theater, and The New Hazlett.

Kevin MooreKevin H. Moore earned his BA in Acting and BSW in Social Work from Slippery Rock University. He is currently a part of Saltworks Theater’s touring company and has performed with Pittsburgh Classic Players and Slippery Rock/Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His performance as two of the characters in Iscariot marks his debut with Throughline. Likewise, this will be his first appearance at Riley’s.

At the close of this month’s event, we will be giving away three pairs of tickets to The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. For a chance to win, all you need to do is be there. It’s our way of thanking you for supporting one of the city’s most exiting storytelling venues .

Riley’s Pour House is located at 215 East Main Street in Carnegie. Sign-ups begin at 7:15. Stories begin at 8:00 and continue until 9:30 (or until the last story’s told). Masks are optional.

Hope to see you there! Until then, scop on!