A Night of Lovecraft
- By gentleguide
- On Fri 27 sep 2019
For those who have discovered them, the fear-filled works of author H.P. Lovecraft are in a class by themselves. Known as one of the masters of literary horror, his worlds are full of unearthly monsters and primal scares. A new group up in Ames is putting on A Night of Lovecraft, 4 unique one-act tales featuring mystery, thrills, and terror on stage.
The Missing Element
David Detlefs is the creative mind behind the new Vagrant Fear Productions, and is the director for A Night of Lovecraft. A veteran of local theatre, he’s worked with many other groups in Des Moines and Ames, but felt something was still needed in the area. “Vagrant Fear started in my mind over a year ago as a desire to do something different. Nothing against the Ames/Des Moines theater scene, but the topics were similar. I did not see anything totally off the rails. So I decided to try it myself. I have a desire to see more horror represented on stage. There are some great shows out there that people in this area are perhaps too timid to try.”
“I took a risk. I started offering the idea to friends in Iowa. The response was good. When I was ready to put it all together, I asked people to join, I offered auditions to the various Facebook groups and Iowa State Theater. The people that came out were just as interested to see and be a part of my dream as I was.”
“This is a showcase of the broad scope of Lovecraft’s work. His stories center around the human ability to cope with terror and the unexplained. The 4 shows I picked are good examples of this. There is nothing graphic to them. The horror is implied and never fully explained, much like Lovecraft’s works. There is no need to know Lovecraft or have read any of his stories. These are timeless stories good for anyone.”
Tiffany Liechty is one of the featured actresses in A Night of Lovecraft. Knowing that horror is not a typical staple of stage theatre, she’s ready to show people that the unique vibe of Lovecraft can translate to the live arena.
“Lovecraft isn't the only glue to these stories,” notes Liechty. “They all have a theme of some unknown outer force that someone always wants to tinker with. This show definitely feeds into the prevalent ‘spooky’ trend happening in the mainstream social media and cinema world. I do think the atmosphere is going to be set up quite creepy to begin with and should definitely aid the imagination.”
Creating the Nightmares
The performances of A Night of Lovecraft are being presented at the Lockwood Café in the Reliable Street building in northwest Ames. It’s only a two-night run, and with four separate one-act shows each evening, it’s hardly typical theatre. Liechty notes the differences in this show from productions she’s done previously with DMACC Ankeny and other places.
“The whole process is very nontraditional compared to a regular theatre setting,” says Liechty. “We have a rehearsal once or twice a week, however, we will have a more traditionally involved tech week. Setting up rehearsals has been really nice because I am only working with two other people on my scene, so we all figure out what works with our schedule. It's so convenient.”
“Being a part of this project has made me see the broad spectrum of what theatre is or can be. I've done the 5 days a week, 3 hours a day rehearsals for longer productions and now I've done a very low maintenance show that really proves that when you just get some people together to do something cool, it can happen.”
Detlefs adds, “This has been a very organic process. I have given the actors a freedom to work on their own at home within each show. This is partly due to schedules and the space we are performing in. But it has worked out.”
“Reliable Street and the Lockwood Café is a great venue. Outside, it is still very unfinished. The windows are broken out, the walls are marred and damaged, the place looks like it should be haunted. But inside, the place has made great improvements. Reliable Street put a call out to people to use their space. As soon as I saw that, I contacted them. They loved my idea. They felt it was just the thing they wanted. It is very unconventional as a theater space. It is smaller, but that lends itself greatly to this show. I just hope that people are understanding of the space and open to the experience.”
Liechty is already looking into the unknown, and what Vagrant Fear can do with A Night of Lovecraft. “I haven't personally seen too much creepy and fear-related theatre, so it seems to be breaking the mold in that way, by being a company that focuses on the fear tactics.”
Since this is the first production of Vagrant Fear, I asked Detlefs what his future plans were if A Night of Lovecraft is as successful as he hopes. “I currently have 2 ISU script writers working on shows for a Valentine’s Project. This will showcase love within the ideals of Vagrant Fear. I want to not only present published works, but also give local talent a way to see their ideas given life.”
“Fear is a big part of life nowadays. This show does not deal with the current sources of fear, but fear is something we all must face. And theater for me is a way to learn about life. This show, and future shows, will deal with the deep fear within each of us. A primal source that shapes everyone. I hope that people can find something to relate to in these.”
A Night of Lovecraft will be presented for two shows only, Friday and Saturday evenings October 4th and 5th. Performances are at the Lockwood Café in the Reliable Street building in Ames, and doors open at 7pm with a curtain at 7:30 each night. Tickets are available for only $5 cash at the door.
Publicity photos by A&G Romans Photo, courtesy of Vagrant Fear Productions