I have been thinking a lot about horror as a genre lately. It's proving to be a very difficult medium for theatre because with theatre the audience sees all of what's there. Horror works in film often because the viewer does not see what the character sees - we hear but don't see. The same would apply with radio I think. However, I think theatre needs to be a different kind of horror - more breach of trust horror than scary thing horror. Anybody got any good experiences of writing horror for the stage? Or even bad experiences? Any thoughts on what types of horror things work in theatre?

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Comment by Jac Bevan on June 7, 2013 at 14:46

Yes, indeed, do check out Grand-Guignol, & ther are a few groups that perform horror. Theatre of The Dammed; EAT theatre company. I directed The Weekend Cottage in 2011 for EAT & it was featured in the HEADPRESS magazine [2.6 ].

View some images on my web site www.jacbevan.co.uk.

Comment by Catrin Fflur Huws on June 6, 2013 at 8:56

Thanks ever so much  Ace - that's really helpful and insightful. I hadn't thought of Howard Barker as horror before, even though its obviously extremely horrific. It's too real to be horror. You might think this is missing the point a bit, but what I'm writing is a pastiche of the Hammer Horror films, so I am aiming for over the top lurid as opposed to really uncomfortable. Lighting will certainly make a difference to what's 'on the page' as 'twere, and I have got a couple of scenes where the lighting effects will be used to make the villain appear out of nowhere. Without giving too much away though, I have made my good guys turn bad, and my villain appear good though. Thanks ever so much for your advice - many useful avenues to explore there.

Comment by Ace McCarron on June 6, 2013 at 8:26

As lighting designer for the Wrestling School for the past 25 years, I have encountered a significant amount of horror in the productions of Howard Barker's plays. Horror as an end in itself is quite popular, but I don't find it interesting. Hollywood caters well for those who are drawn to it. But horror, as a component of genuinely radical drama, is a tool which can be used to great effect. The audience is temporarily dissuaded from analysis and reminded of their fragile animal nature, before being presented with a dilemma, which though perhaps familiar, will have to be re-evaluated. It has been my job to control the extent to which this horror is seen, so what you say about the audience seeing all of what is there is not necessarily true.

For a project, I am researching the Theatre Grand Guignol, which was absurdly successful in Paris before the war, and revived as an idea in London. One of it's French stars was an actress who was murdered and raped thousands of times.

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