THE LIFE OF DEATH
based on a short story by Clive Barker
adapted by Charley Sherman
directed by Carolyn Klein
October 3, 2012 - November 4, 2012
It’s Christmastime in London, but mortality, not merriment, is on everyone’s mind. Leaving a trail of victims in his wake, a serial killer is terrorizing the British capital. Elaine Rider, however, has been dealing with life and death matters on a more personal scale. While going through the healing process from a life-saving hysterectomy, she becomes fascinated with death. Elaine’s morbid obsession leads her to an old church being demolished and a mysterious man who shares her dark curiosity. In this adaptation of Clive Barker’s short story, The Life of Death is a journey of transformation and restoration from beyond the grave.
PEOPLE ON THE STREET, TRAIN
DEVELOPMENT HISTORY OF THE LIFE OF DEATH
ABOUT CLIVE BARKER
- include stuff from http://www.clivebarker.info/news.html
- include stuff from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_barker
ABOUT PLAYWRIGHT CHARLEY SHERMAN
Charley Sherman is from Nottingham, England, and trained as an actor at The Drama Centre, London. After acting for various theatre companies in Chicago, he made his directorial debut with Clive Barker's In the Flesh - a full blown piece of Horror Theatre, which he and Steve Pickering adapted for the old Organic Theatre in 1992. It was during this production that he met and worked with fellow WildClawians Charlie Athanas and Paul Foster, and The Claw” himself. Subsequent Pickering/Sherman adaptations included Clive Barker's Son of Celluloid and William Gibson's Burning Chrome, both for the Next Theatre. For The European Repertory Company in Chicago, Sherman directed the blood soaked productions of Beaumont and Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy and Calderon de la Barca's The Mayor of Zalamea. He spent several years directing in England, before returning to Chicago, and subsequently directing Lord Byron's Cain for Tinfish Theatre. After the formation of WildClaw Theatre in 2007, he adapted and directed Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan and H.P. Lovecraft's The Dreams in the Witch House, and he recently adapted William Peter Blatty's Legion. He married WildClaw company member earlier this year and they both currently live in London.
PLAYWRIGHT’S NOTE FOR THE LIFE OF DEATH
“Horror should break down the old duality between inevitable good and inevitable evil, subvert the gung-ho attitude of, 'There's a monster, let's kick the shit out of the fucker.’” Clive Barker, 1986.
Clive Barker has a lot to answer for.
The genesis of WildClaw Theatre can be found in Clive Barker’s 1984-85 mammoth short story collection “The Books of Blood”, from which “The Life of Death” derives. This goes
back to 1992 when a colleague of mine Steve Pickering and I adapted one of these stories, “In the Flesh”, for the old Organic Theatre. The resulting production was an attempt to bring a visionary and violent tale of supernatural horror to the stage in a serious and thought provoking way. It is not overly dramatic to state that this production changed the path my life was taking. And it certainly informed how I went about forming WildClaw five years ago, as our company has sought to create the world of horror in all its many forms within the theatre. I
also named the company in homage to the actor Ray Wild, who played The Bishop in that production, and who died several years ago. And, now, by adapting “The Life of Death” for the stage, it’s come full circle 20 years later not just for myself but for three fellow WildClaw company members: Charlie Athanas (the artist behind the posters for “In the Flesh” and “The Life of Death”); Paul Foster (who designed the lights for “In the Flesh”) and Steve Herson
(who played The Oven Man in “In the Flesh” and plays the part of Kavanagh in “The Life of Death”).
Not that Barker is a stranger to the theatre himself. Before he became a bestselling novelist
and film director, he was a playwright, writing for his own theatre - The Dog Company, based in London. These plays, such as “Frankenstein in Love” and “The History of the Devil”, owe much to the tradition of the Grand Guignol and continue to be performed. It was only when he was in his early 30’s after the publication of “The Books of Blood” that all this changed. When the collection came out, it led Stephen King to famously declare, "I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker." That future included such novels as “Weaveworld”, “The
Great and Secret Show” and “Coldheart Canyon”; films such as “Hellraiser”, “Nightbreed” and “Candyman”; and an extraordinary legacy of artwork in various visual mediums. His recent series of young adult fantasy novels “Abarat”, which he also illustrated, has introduced him
to a new age group of readers and fans. And the last few years has seen a surge in film adaptations of his stories from “The Books of Blood”, films like “The Midnight Meat Train” and “Dread”.
Clive Barker once said, “The characters in my fiction are very often dreamers, lost people, people who aren't quite at ease with the bourgeois, the domestic. What interests me is the idea of characters who confront the extraordinary, rather than simply finding some creatures or some forces that they must eradicate or exorcise in order to return to the norm they had on page one”. This is one the reasons that I have always been drawn to Clive Barker’s work, and, in particular, “The Life of Death”. And with the exception of a graphic novel, the story has
otherwise been untouched by adaptation. I hope that by bringing this melancholic tale of dark wonder and transformation to the stage, we can, at the least, capture something of the vision of Clive Barker.
DIRECTOR’S NOTES FOR THE LIFE OF DEATH
Plagues, serial killers and “Flies? At Christmas?” Welcome to the show!
I must admit I have always been a complete baby when it comes to horror movies, haunted houses, spooky urban legends and things that go bump in the night. Given that, what would draw me to a project that is essentially a representation of that which frightens me? Many things, actually…
· Theatricality – In this piece, Clive has created a strange and psychological world that delves into a fascination of death by a character that has no more life to give. This provides endless opportunities for imagination, visual effect, movement, and inherent opposing dramatic forces.
· Wildclaw – Working with this company has always been appealing to me, because this is a group of incredibly creative individuals who are not afraid to commit to doing brave and dangerous things. All while maintaining a fantastic sense of humor about the world we live in and themselves as artists.
· YOU, The Audience – There is something terribly exciting about bringing to life a story that has never been seen on stage before and creating, for you, a world that can only be this play right here and now. This is a perfect opportunity to include you in the telling of this story and engage you to come along and enjoy the ride.
I really can’t think of a more festive way to prepare you for the upcoming holiday season than by giving you a couple of hours in the weird and wonderful world of Clive Barker’s THE LIFE OF DEATH.
Thank you for supporting theatre and I hope you enjoy the show!
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT/DO/DISCUSS PRIOR TO PERFORMANCE:
THINGS TO WATCH FOR IN PERFORMANCE:
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT/DISCUSS POST-PERFORMANCE:
Additional discussions may be added. Please see our website for updates! www.wildclawtheatre.com
TICKETS AND RUNNING TIME:
The running time of the show is approximately
Buy tickets via phone, online, or in person:
66 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
- Deathscribe 2012, Monday, December 3rd at the Mayne Stage
WILDCLAW THEATRE: STORYTELLING IS IN OUR BLOOD