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Creating a Haunting Pt. 1

Updated: May 8


For those familiar with me, it’s no secret that I’ve been eager to delve into another ghost story since 2017, when I presented my show The Curiosity Experiment at the Adelaide Fringe to a sold-out audience.


Truth be told, I’ve been quietly working on two immersive and interactive ghost stories in the background. One delves into the intriguing concept of Stone Tape theory, while the other serves as a more straightforward storytelling platform. After all, the essence of a captivating ghost story lies in the narrative itself, capturing the audience’s imagination and sparking belief.


This was precisely the allure of Hugh Janes’ play “The Haunting,” which revolves around words, much like a ghost story, subtly making you question shadows in your periphery as you read. Therefore, I decided to submit it to Gold Coast community theatre company, Tugun Theatre, for their 2024 season, as that is where my passion lies when I’m not pursuing my independent theatre aspirations.


In this blog post, I will introduce you to the background and storyline of "The Haunting."


Commissioned for production by Bill Kenwright, the play debuted at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, in 2010. The haunting tale unfolds as follows:


In a decrepit ancient mansion, shielded from the fierce winds sweeping the desolate moorland, two men uncover a sinister secret that alters their lives forever. When a young book dealer, David Filde, is hired by a former acquaintance of his uncle to organize a private library, he discovers a collection of rare and ancient books. However, a series of inexplicable occurrences hinders Filde's work, prompting him to embark on a journey to the brink of terror with his sceptical employer to prove the reality of the eerie phenomena.


"The Haunting," penned by Hugh Janes, intricately intertwines five ghost stories by incorporating elements from Dickens' personal life, literary works, and correspondence. These tales include "The Queer Chair" and "A Madman's Manuscript" from "The Pickwick Papers" (1837), "The Haunted House" from the 1859 Christmas issue of "All The Year Round," "The Ghost in the Bride's Chamber" from "The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices" (1857), and "The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain" published in 1848. 


For those unfamiliar with Charles Dickens, he is renowned for crafting some of the most beloved novels in the English language. His vibrant characters, vivid descriptions, social reform advocacy, humour, and compelling narratives ensure that his work is consistently adapted across various mediums.

Charles Dickens

Born in Portsmouth in 1812, Dickens attended Wellington House Academy and held various roles such as a law clerk, court stenographer, and shorthand reporter. These experiences led to his initial collection of writings, "Sketches by Boz" (1836).


Among his notable works are "The Pickwick Papers" (1836), "Oliver Twist" (1837-9), "Nicholas Nickleby" (1838-9), "A Christmas Carol" (1843), "Martin Chuzzlewit" (1843-4), "David Copperfield" (1849-50), "Bleak House" (1852-3), "Hard Times" (1854), "Little Dorrit" (1855-7), "A Tale of Two Cities" (1859), "Great Expectations" (1860-1), "Our Mutual Friend" (1864-5), and the unfinished "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" (1870), alongside other novels, books, and short stories. Notably, all of his major works have remained in print.


Playwright Hugh Janes has authored more than forty plays, musicals, site-specific works, as well as television and films. His credits include being a writer and script consultant for the BBC series Play Away, and creating Scatterbox for ITV. Janes has contributed to various television productions such as Beyond the Wall, Conversations with a Stranger, Second Time Around (BBC series), and the film Even Break (BK Films). His stage plays encompass a wide range including After Dark (Bikeshed Theatre), Master Forger, Two of a Kind, The Perfect Murder (based on a story by Jeffrey Archer), Deadlock, Dancers (Mayfair Theatre), A Soldier’s Song (adapted from Ken Lukowiak's book), The Complete Ring of the Nibelung (abridged), Dangerous to Know (from Barbara Taylor Bradford's book), Land of Lies (co-written with Gerald Moon), Sealed Knot, Four Quarters, Downtown Dash, Ophelia, and Museum of Horror (performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011), and Riot in The Royal Oak.


For those interested in exploring more of Hugh's work, two stage plays, Two of a Kind, Deadlock, and The Perfect Murder, are available through Samuel French, or Origin Theatrical here in Australia, and have been produced by Bill Kenwright.

 

Starting off the blog, I emphasized that the essence of a compelling ghost story lies in its storyline, captivating the audience's imagination, and weaving a tapestry of belief while subtly nudging you to question the shadows as you delve into the tale.


This principle also applies to crafting a suspenseful experience for spectators witnessing live performances, akin to an exhilarating roller coaster journey in my opinion and reflecting on my encounter with "2:22: A Ghost Story" last year, I realized that not everyone can be easily frightened, particularly skeptics or horror aficionados familiar with the genre's surprises, suspense, sudden scares, and inevitable outcomes.



However, inspired by the roller coaster analogy, my goal is to ensure that all individuals relish the ride. This will be my strategy at the Tugun Theatre Company in May, featuring the dynamic duo of Graham Scott and Lance Hawkins on stage, accompanied by the expertise of assistant director Barry Gibson, renowned for his extensive directing background in the vibrant Gold Coast theater scene, and my team.


Stay tuned for more insights in the upcoming blogs this week on our preparation for the show. If this blog has piqued your interest, tickets are now available for purchase and selling fast.

“The” will run from 9th to 25th May on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30pm and Saturdays 11th and 18th at 2pm.


Tugun Theatre, which operates as a BYO venue, so remember to bring your drinks and snacks. Each table accommodates up to 10 people.


Tickets for the 9th May are only $10 before they become $15.00 per person or if you book in Group of 10 its a $130!


Or check out the Tugun Theatre website clicking here.


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