SPRINGFIELD, NJ — Residents of Springfield and the surrounding area gathered at Springfield Public Library for Hudson Shakespeare Company’s performance of “Tales of Edgar Allan Poe” on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. The audience was a diverse crowd of men and women of all ages. It was recommended for adults and children over the age of 6.
“I’ve worked with Hudson Shakespeare Company for many years,” Library Director Dale Spindel told LocalSource in an interview. “When I was the director of Kenilworth’s library, I had them present there as well. They did a fabulous job in Kenilworth, so I knew it would be a success. We invited them to perform here as a pre-Halloween treat.”
The performance consisted of two modern-day high school students who get locked in an old house where Poe once lived with his wife, Virginia. The couple haunts the students as they start reading some of Poe’s stories. Poe’s publisher, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, also haunts the students as they search for a letter written by Poe. The stories included in the play were “The Black Cat,” “The Tell Tale Heart,” “The Raven” and “The Purloined Letter.”
When audience members were asked about their favorite Poe stories, many of them couldn’t recall the details since it had been many years since they’d read his works. The performance was a refresher for the adults as they were able to start remembering what they had read. It was also a way to introduce Poe to some of the kids.
“The performance is ideal for all ages,” Spindel told LocalSource in an interview. “It’s a great way to introduce Poe to kids. There isn’t all the gory details that’s usually seen in the horror genre. It’s gentile scariness. It’s also good for adults who haven’t read him in a while.”
The audience members had the least amount of trouble remembering “The Cask of the Amontillado,” a story of revenge that many of them enjoyed the most. One audience member had recently discussed the story at a short story class also held at the library.
“We just read ‘The Cask of the Amontillado’ at our short story group that meets at the library on Thursday nights,” Joan Azzarello, of Union, told LocalSource. “My favorite story is ‘The Pit and The Pendulum.’ I think the theme of death is what characterizes his work the most. I thought it was interesting that our instructor told us about Poe’s time in the military and how it might have inspired some of his story ideas.”
Many people were more familiar with his stories than his poetry, but there were also fans of his poetry that attended the performance. The stories captivated more of the audience’s interest, especially since the performance centered around four of his short stories.
“I read some of his poetry,” Madelyn Teja, of Springfield, told LocalSource. “My favorite poem is ‘The Raven’ because it’s romantic. I’m not a fan of the horror genre. I’m more familiar with his stories than his poetry, though. I think all his stories are interesting. I don’t have one in particular that’s my favorite.”