Historically, the events that lead up to famous writer Edgar Allan Poe’s death are shrouded in mystery. Poe was found delirious in front of Ryan’s Tavern on the streets of Baltimore, Md., on Oct. 3, 1849. He died four days later in the hospital. Poe’s medical records and certificates have never been found. “Maelstrom” tries to answer what really happened.
“This play is a dark comedy drama about when Poe left from Richmond, Va., on his way home to New York. He ended up in Baltimore and no one knew how he got there.” said SSHS Drama teacher Lesha Woodard. “We knew that he kept asking for someone named Reynolds and he seemed drunk or very ill. Spectators said he started having hallucinations. These last days are what the play is based on.”
In “Maelstrom,” Poe heads to Baltimore to solve the murder of a woman he was writing a story about. Poe gets more than he bargain for as the woman’s fate forshadows his own.
“Poe believes that he might have even killed the woman himself, because every woman he ever loved had died,” said Woodard.
In accordance with One Act Play rules, the script of “Maelstrom” had to be cut down to less than 40 minutes from an hour and a half run time. Woodard said she was still perfecting the abridged version so that it would make the biggest effect on a OAP judge.
“We have worked on taking key scenes and cutting the play down to work within the guidelines,” said Woodard. “We will have seven minutes to set up the scene and 40 minutes for the entire show.”
The students will perform the production for the first time on Feb. 20 infront of five judges, who will critique the show and help students excel in the contest. Then on March 25, the district contest commences.
“Liam Pollard will play Edgar Allan Poe and Mikayla Jones will play Poe’s young wife, Virginia,” said Woodard. “We could only have have 15 cast members out of around 40 students who auditioned. We really have an ensemble cast from freshman to seniors. I am so excited to work with this core group of students who are dedicated to theater.”
A public performance for “Maelstrom” will be at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center Auditorium on March 29. The time is yet to be determined.