The story weaves each poem into the next, and pulls Poe’s tortured psyche to the surface. Filled with gothic designs and haunting music, the “Tales of Edgar Allen Poe” at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Midtown is a simultaneously dark and fun show, said director Michael Haverty.
“Puppetry lends an animated quality, and brings the story to life in a fun way, retaining the creep factor Poe is so good at,” he said. “It’s a grotesque scary story. It’s classic American literature and really excellent puppetry.”
He said the show is geared towards teens and adults.
“Poe isn’t completely scary. There are great feelings of compassion and love. … It’s work that’s both beautiful and frightening,” Haverty said. “It’s really fun to see the variety of stories Poe wrote.”
The show has been a mainstay at the center for the past decade, he said, and included in the selection of poems are “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Bells,” “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “Berenice,” “The Oval Portrait,” “M.S. Found in a Bottle” and “Lenore.”
The show has three puppeteers with about 10 to 12 puppets, Haverty said, along with live musician Klimchak, who created his own instruments with materials like symbols and a violin bow on a xylophone. The puppets are a “twist on table-top” rod puppets, he said, to relay the theme of “hands as the instrument of evil.”
“You can think lots of horrible things, but not until you act, that evil really comes to the surface,” Haverty said. “The arms and hands are not actually built as puppetry hands. They are performers’ hands. … We have chosen to do that because it lends this air of interplay between and puppet and puppeteer as the ghosts are manipulating Poe to tell stories.”
Puppeteer Luis Hernandez plays one of the unnamed ghosts who is the “man-servant.”
“A lot of people think puppet shows are for kids. There’s also puppetry for adults,” he said.
In preparation for the show, Hernandez said he became intrigued by how “dark and complex”
Poe’s work is, and how he left interpretations up to the readers or listeners.“It’s like a puzzle. I like that,” he said.
The center is adding a Valentine’s twist to the performances Thursday through Sunday, presenting “Oh, Poe is Me.”
It is a weekend-long unconventional Valentine’s Day celebration with a variety of activities. Guests can fill out “broken heart posts” to leave messages for current loves, long lost loves or heartbreakers, and post them to the walls of the center. There will also be “Poe-tric” opportunities taken in the style of the author with old-fashioned costumes, wigs and mustaches.
If you go:
o What: “Tales of Edgar Allen Poe”
o Where: The Center for Puppetry Arts
o When: now through March 3
o Tickets: $25
o Information: http://www.puppet.org/