Spotlight On: The Poe Asylum


The Scranton Fringe is a performing arts festival, returning for its second year September 29th – October 2nd 2016 to downtown Scranton. With over fifty productions/special events spanning twelve venues to chose from at the festival, the task can seem daunting – we are here to help further introduce you to what the Fringe has to offer!

This featured post spotlights the 2016 Scranton Fringe production, The Poe Asylum. Built on a theatrical adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s most macabre and spine-chilling stories, the Poe Asylum is a unique, interactive experience which will allow the audience to rediscover Poe’s work in a very intimate way. Presented by Ghostlight Productions, we were able to check in with Rachel Strayer (creator of The Poe Asylum) to learn a bit more about the immersive project:

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your production in the 2016 Scranton Fringe Festival.
I’m Rachel Luann Strayer, Artistic Director and Creator of The Poe Asylum. I also play Woman in our adaptation of “The Raven.” I am a Co-Founder of Ghostlight Productions, serving as an actress, a director, and Director of PR and Fundraising. I have an MA and MFA in Creative Writing/Playwriting from Wilkes University. Some of my personal career highlights include: playing over a dozen roles in the last eight years including Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, and M’lynn in Steel Magnolias; directing five shows for Ghostlight, including this past summer’s Julius Caesar; and seeing San Francisco, Scranton, & Philadelphia productions of my original play, Drowning Ophelia.

2. What inspired the creation of The Poe Asylum?
The inspiration for The Poe Asylum came from a variety of places. Six years ago Ghostlight had the privilege of performing an adaption of Poe pieces entitled A Midnight Dreary, created by James Goode for the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. Playing a Murderess in that production was one of my favorite theatrical experiences. I knew I wanted to create my own adaptation of Poe’s work. Our unique approach – call it “choose your own adventure” theatre, if you will – was inspired by attending a production of Sleep No More in New York City. I was drawn to the intensely interactive nature of Sleep No More and excited to find out what other types of stories could be explored in this style. By putting power into the hands of audience members to choose their own experience, we ask them to become participants rather than viewers. It’s the most immersive type of theatre I can imagine.

3. We understand you can’t give too much away – but what pieces of Edgar Allen Poe’s work we will see represented in The Poe Asylum?
We will be performing adaptations of four of Poe’s famous works: “The Raven,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Premature Burial,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” However, the Asylum only has three rooms, so you’ll have to see the show more than once if you want to see all four stories performed. If you’re familiar with Ghostlight’s shows, you can look forward to seeing familiar faces like KK Gordon, Laura Miceli, Jonathan Strayer, and Jeremy Kemmerer, just to name a few.

4. What other productions in the 2016 Scranton Fringe Festival are you most excited about / planning on seeing?
There are so many exciting shows on the docket at this year’s Fringe! I have to say I’m most intrigued by Heather Stuart’s All’s Well That Ends As You Like It and New Vintage Ensemble’s Retrospective, created by Jessica McDonough and Simone Daniel. I also have to give a shout-out to Mark Mallecoccio’s Playboy of the Western World, which features of a lot of Ghostlight regulars.

5. In six words (no more, no less) what would you say to encourage someone to attend The Poe Asylum?
Get locked inside Poe’s twisted mind!

Purchase tickets here to The Poe Asylum!