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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

Nevermore Playwright's Notes

 

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A NOTE FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT


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While Edgar Allan Poe is probably best known for his wild and fantastical tales, it was one of Poe’s poems that first caught my attention. I still remember daydreaming in my high school English class, bored by my teacher and thumbing through the anthology that was our textbook, when my eyes fell upon Poe’s poem, The Bells. With its alliteration and pounding repetitions (at times Poe repeats the word “bells” seven times in a row), I was hooked. I loved his use of unusual words like the ringing “tintinnabulation”. My English teacher would have called this onomatopoeia. I called it cool. Soon I was reading Poe’s other poems on my own, A Dream Within A Dream, Annabel Lee, and I purchased my own complete works (I still have it) and plowed through the stories, Tell Tale Heart, The Oblong Box, The Red Death, The Pit and the Pendulum, and more. I found that Poe was a favorite of mine and of many of my classmates as well, kind of the old school Stephen King.

So in 1994, when I began looking for a new Halloween play, I was quite familiar with Poe’s tales of the macabre. And since moving to Charleston, I’d learned Poe lived on Sullivan’s Island for a time when, as a young soldier, he was stationed at Ft. Moultrie. I thought this might make the making of a great play and headed to the library for a Poe biography. I quickly learned, however, that we know little of Poe’s stay on Sullivan’s, certainly not enough for a full play. As I read on, however, I was intrigued by the circumstances of Poe’s mysterious death, and the spark that would become Nevermore was ignited. I dashed off the first few scenes and cocky and confidently announced the premiere of Nevermore for the fall of 1996 (this was midsummer.) And then I ran into a wall — writer’s block. Nothing would come, and I thought I would have to cancel the production. In despair, I thought I’d write a scene about writer’s block itself and, not to give away the plot, that scene provided a path for the plot and Poe’s descent into the darkness, and my way out of my writer’s block maelstrom.

Nevermore premiered to great acclaim in 1996. A few years later it was published and over the past 20 years has been produced around the country.

 

Playwright Julian Wiles, author of over 27 plays, is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Charleston Stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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