Skeele’s ‘Dark North, ‘Hungry Jane’ dare to scare
Playwright David Skeele, Slippery Rock University professor of theatre, will direct his horror plays “Dark North” and “Hungry Jane” April 15 and April 17-21 in the University Union. The presentations are part of SRU’s Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, April 14-28.
April 1, 2016
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Tales from the dark, frightened side of the human mind, and a scream or two, will pierce the night when Slippery Rock University presents the plays "Dark North" and "Hungry Jane: An Evening of Psychological Horror" during SRU's Kaleidoscope Arts Festival.
The plays, written and directed by David Skeele, professor of theater, don't cater to scaredy-cats. Narratives float between the underworld of the dead, ghostly torment and crumbling mansions. Students will stage the plays back-to-back April 15 and April 17-21 in the University Union Multi-Purpose Room.
"Dark North" is a 55-minute eerie adventure tied to the exploits of Daniel Dark North, a television psychic who has made a career out of communing with the dead. One day, in a Connecticut estate, North discovers that the dead are gone and ought to stay that way.
"Hungry Jane" is a one-act psycho-torture that focuses on a woman who enlists the help of her ghost-hunting former lover to help end her problems when the ghost of a young girl bothers her - only to discover her problems are just beginning.
"The plays deal with the darkest corners of the human mind and heart, and so they require actors and directors who are daring and committed and absolutely unflinching in their willingness to look into those corners," Skeele said.
Skeele, an expert in the horror genre, said when fright is done right it should include brilliant special effects, psychological suspense and believable performance by actors. Skeele said he's confident his actors would deliver.
"A horror production that isn't scary is like a comedy production that isn't funny," he said.
Skeele, who joined SRU in 1993 and teaches playwriting, acting and theatre history, has written more than 10 plays and directed more than 35 including, "Deep Church Hollow," "The Barwell Prophecy" and "Electra: An American Gothic."
Skeele, who had led SRU students to performance festivals in Scotland and elsewhere, said college audiences across the country and around world seem to appreciate the horror genre.
"The appeal for me, and for the young audiences, is the idea that in the theatre you are quite literally trapped in the room with the horror," he said. "It tends to be unnerving, and in a different way than young audiences are used to. They grew up on the so-called 'slasher' films, where the emphasis is on gore, but in these plays the emphasis is more on what's going on inside the characters' heads. That unseen horror tends to be much scarier than gore, provided the actors can make you believe in it."
"Dark North" stars Joe Karl, a theatre major from Pittsburgh, as Daniel Dark North; Kaitlin Cliber, a theatre major from Plum, as Genevieve; Alex Sharo, a psychology major from Hermitage as Zelthausen; Ally Kryll, as Kristin; Emily Daning, a theatre major from Bartonsville as Taylor; Phillip Bova, an English major from Pittsburgh, as Neal; and Erin Ritson, a theater major from Youngstown, Ohio, as Margaret.
"Hungry Jane" starts Cole Vecchio, a theatre major from Bradford, as Kyle, and Rebecca McGann, a music major from Berwick, as Shirley.
"Dark North" and "Hungry Jane" will be presented at 7:30 p.m., April 15, 17-21, with a 2 p.m. matinee April 17.
Tickets are $7 for students, $12 for general admission. They are available at the Smith Student Center Information Desk, or at 724.738.4926.
Kaleidoscope is SRU’s annual arts festival, which runs this year from April 14-28. This year will feature 28, student dance, theatre, music, literary and visual arts events. For the complete lineup, open http://www.sru.edu/life-at-sru/arts-and-culture/kaleidoscope-arts-festival.
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