Dread Falls Theatre’s Father Dagon Embodies Lovecraftian Fear

Posted by Will Connor on July 29, 2014 in Blog, Will Connor tagged with , , , , , , , , , ,

          H. P. Lovecraft is arguably one of the most important writers of the previous century and remains so today. His works, spanning horror, science fiction, and fantasy, have influenced a large number of prominent authors following fellow writer and fan August Derleth’s adamant insistence that Lovecraft’s works be preserved and widely published. As a result, many tributes, expansions, and interpretations of Lovecraft’s works have been produced in increasing numbers each year to date. Literature is not the only form of media producing Lovecraftian works, either, with the most common non-writing form being cinematic adaptation of Lovecraft’s stories and directly related spin-off tales. Perhaps a less regularly explored outlet of Lovecraftian expression is drama, but there are examples of stage theatrics being employed to bring Lovecraft’s so-called Strange Fiction into a new light.

Lovecraft Father Dagon Dread Falls Theatre

H. P. Lovecraft is often considered the father of modern horror literature.

Dread Falls Theatre, a drama company based in London, will be presenting a new Lovecraftian performance entitled Father Dagon this August. Director Victoria Snaith states that she has made an attempt to further embrace Lovecraft’s sensibilities through her directorial decisions. Specifically, drawing from Lovecraft’s notion that “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”, Snaith will be purposefully placing the audience in unfamiliar surroundings to accentuate a sense of unknowing and fear.
          Father Dagon will differ from a traditional stage performance in various ways, and Snaith points out that it is these differences that will strengthen the association with Lovecraft’s fiction. Snaith prefers to refer to Father Dagon as a multidisciplinary show and it is an appropriate description as the show combines dance, film, music, gallery art with traditional acting, but the various media incorporated to tell the story and set the mood are only a means to develop the desired Lovecraftian mood.
Snaith’s most formative decision was to make Father Dagon a type of immersive performance. The term immersive theatre is a relatively new term and its definition has already evolved within creative circles over recent years. In the context of Father Dagon, immersive implies exchanging a traditional seating area for a “free world” setting, allowing the audience to roam as they wish within the performance environment. Snaith says this will “take away the comfortable space between performer and audience, adding to the sense of unknowing.” Immersive should not be confused with interactive here, where interactive implies more concrete engagements between the performers and audience members, and immersive suggests a stronger focus on surrounding the audience with the performance. There is certainly a degree of crossover between these definitions and Father Dagon will assuredly include elements of direct interactions between audience and performer; in fact some of the rewards for supporting Dread Falls Theatre via their current Indiegogo fundraising campaign to fund the venue in which the performance will take place include special one-on-one interactions, but Father Dagon will not prioritize this type of contact purposefully so as to distance the audience enough to heighten their lack of comfort.

Father Dagon Dread Falls Theatre Lovecraft

Father Dagon is Dread Falls Theatre’s upcoming immersive threatre piece based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

In the next post, I will outline how Snaith also incorporates use of multiple story lines, physical storytelling, and blurring between reality and a dream world to enhance the emotional evocation of Lovercraftian horror. The following post will focus on the specifics of the musical presentation that support Snaith’s goal on making Father Dagon a Lovecraftian experience. For more information on the performance itself, please visit the show’s event page here: Father Dagon Facebook Event Page and to get involved and lend direct support, please visit the Father Dagon Indiegogo campaign page here: Father Dagon Indiegogo Campaign.

(Part two of this three part post is here)

(Part three of this three art post is here)

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