The Newman University Theatre Department presents “Premature Burial,” written by Director of Theatre Mark Taylor Mannette. The play will be presented in the Jabara Flexible Theatre located in the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on Nov. 10, 11, and 12 at 8 p.m. with a special matinee show on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
The play is adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Premature Burial” written about the prevalent fear people had in the 19th century about being buried alive. In his story, Poe gives an example about a love triangle in France. “I took that paragraph and made a play out of it,” explained Mannette.
The play was entirely written by Mannette using his imagination inspired by Poe’s work. Thorn, a demon, tells the story. The play concerns a love triangle consisting of a poet who is in love with a woman named Victorine, Victorine’s father, and a banker Victorine’s father has arranged for her to marry as part of a business deal.
“The poet is also a journalist for a newspaper, and he writes exposé and investigation journalism. He also writes critiques against the banker that his love has married,” Mannette said. “So, he’s attacking him publicly in the press, and the banker gets upset that he’s getting attacked by the journalist.”
Victorine becomes depressed at being married to the banker instead of her love, the poet, falls into a catatonic state, is declared dead, and buried.
“This play is really pretty great,” said Trevor Farney, who plays the role of Renelle, the banker. “I could not be happier with the cast, director, and characters.” The play is being directed by Jon Meyer and assistant director Kate Rhoads.
Mannette has written 28 plays, 10 of them being children’s plays. He is also still completing several plays. To learn more about the plays and Mannette, visit his website at Markmannette.com.
Josie Jenkins, who will be playing Venis, one of the demon’s minions, said, “Rehearsal is great! Jon, the guest director, is awesome to work with. We are working very hard on the show. It’s difficult to turn into such dark characters, and it’s a difficult challenge to create that character, but he’s making us find those movements, which is helpful.”
Manette explained, “I think that people like to see some entertainment where sometimes they’re scared a little bit, and that kind of adrenaline that puts one on the edge of their seat. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do the play, but I also put some humor into it, some dark humor especially with the demon that’s being used, so that even if we get tensed up there’s a release to it. It’s a little bit of an emotional roller coaster for the audience.”
“(The play) is visually amusing,” said Ieuan Sion Thomas, who also plays one of Thorn’s minions.
Ticket prices are $10 general admission, $5 seniors, university faculty and staff, non-university students, and free to Newman students with a student ID.