The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

CHS to bring Poe's tales to life


April 26, 2018

Jamie Cushman

Dafne Acosta performs during a dress rehearsal for "Shuddersome: Tales of Poe" on Wednesday. The Clovis High School's production of several Edgar Allan Poe works premieres tonight at 6 at the Arts Academy at Bella Vista.

CLOVIS — Prepare for a scare: the Clovis High School Theater Department will bring several of Edgar Allan Poe's famous poems and stories to life tonight with the play "Shuddersome: Tales of Poe."

The theater department made no bones about their goal with this play — it wants to scare the audience.

"I want them to be really scared during the entire play, I want them to take chills away," junior Samalia Polk said.

"I just hope they get scared. I really want to scare them, I want to creep them out," senior Taya Roach said.

The play will feature dramatizations of Poe's works "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Raven," "The Bells," "Lionizing," "The Oval Portrait," and "Masque of the Red Death." Roach and theater director Crystal Benfield said there is an extra challenge that comes when you try to adapt a poem for the stage.

"It was pretty rough at first because it's poetry and we're not used to it but everyone kind of just buckled down," Roach said.

Benfield said the group talked with the play's author Lindsay Price via Skype recently which helped the actors gain an understanding of how to bring a visual component to the written word.

"Her advice was just to think of what scares you, whether it's the dark or sharks or whatever it is — and then how do you visualize that — and that's really helped us with just getting the tone we're looking for," Benfield said.

The play will feature ominous lighting and music as the theater department attempts to bring their audience into the world of Poe, with a focus on storytelling.

"We've been lucky there wasn't a lot of set design that we had to worry about, costumes were very simple, so we were able to focus on characterization and blocking and the visual aspects," Benfield said.

The actors all had something about they play that they liked. For Roach, she said it's the lighting. For junior Ona Urias, she said it's the scenes with death.

"I know that sounds weird, but it's just cool how they die," Urias said.

While the students are primarily intent on putting a scare into the audience, Benfield wants those in attendance to experience a whole range of emotions.

"I hope there's parts where they're creeped out, I hope there's parts where they laugh, I hope there's parts where they're moved a little because I know for me, I see those parts and so I hope the audience has all those emotions that we've had," Benfield said.

The theater department will put on two performances of "Suddersome: Tales of Poe," tonight at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Both shows are at the Arts Academy at Bella Vista, 2900 Cesar Chavez Dr., and free to attend.


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