It’s no coincidence that Edgar Allan Poe gets name-dropped more than usual this time of year. His creepy macabre stories go hand in hand with the uneasy eeriness October seems to stir up.
And for the eighth year in a row, the Frazier History Museum is hosting its ode to Poe — Pode? — with “An Evening with Poe,” a live interpretive performance of the author’s best haunting tales. Featuring actors, musicians, artwork and more, the series begins Friday, Oct. 19, and continues through Nov. 3.
Three local actors — Tony Dingman, Kelly Moore and Eric Frantz — bring to life six Poe classics in each session, and they are accompanied by The Tamerlane Trio, featuring Mick Sullivan, Julia Purcell and Jose Oreta. This year, the crew is doing “The Raven,” “The Bells,” “The City in the Sea,” “The Black Cat,” “The Purloined Letter” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
Also part of the two-hour show is various artwork created by local students that is centered around the author and his spooky stories. Some of that art is shown in this article.
We caught up with Dingman, who has been with the series from the very beginning (as has the other actors), to find out more about the adaptations and our continued obsession with Poe.
Insider Louisville: What is it about Poe that is so fascinating and lends itself to this event?
Tony Dingman: Poe was inventive and he was prolific. We have done over 30 different pieces over the years, and although some of them take a good deal of adaptation, his stories touch on human strengths and weaknesses. He often deals with love, loss, terror and the horrific. These are often fascinating to watch. Sometimes you just can’t take your eyes away from the train wreck.
IL: What’s your favorite part of putting on “An Evening with Poe”?
TD: My favorite part of this event is having so much artistic input in the show. From the sets (which Kelly, Eric and I build and paint in-house) to the lighting, sound and the selection of the pieces, we are proud of each one.
IL: What’s your favorite Poe piece?
TD: My favorite piece to perform is a piece called “Loss of Breath.” It is not that I particularly enjoy the written version, but rather I enjoyed building the adaptation of it. All three of us brought something unique to the process of building it. Except for the very beginning and one word at the end, we did the entire piece as a silent film with musical accompaniment.
As for reading his written work, I think “The Tell-Tale Heart” is one of his finest. It is clear and succinct and told the way a story should be.
IL: Tell us more about the student art and how it’s selected.
TD: Starting the second year, we decided to offer local students the chance to have their artwork displayed in the museum during the run of the show. The first year we got about 25 or so. Now we get between 80 and 100.
It is always fascinating to see what the students will come up with and which ones have given thought to the stories and their meaning. When the number of entries went up, we decided it would be best to bring in people to adjudicate and select the top 30 or so.
We have some really wonderful ones this year, and I am fond of several of them. There’s a great woodcut of “The Bells” that I like particularly. When you ask young people to create artwork about the macabre, you are bound to get some interesting stuff.
“An Evening with Poe” takes place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on Oct. 19-21, 23, 26, 28-30, and Nov. 2-3. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and there’s a cash bar available. Tickets are $20, $15 for Frazier History Museum members. Frazier is located at 829 W. Main St.