“Expect scares, laughs and perpetual darkness.” It’s a description of new horror theatre piece Haunted that should fill audiences with trembling, nervous excitement. As Uncanny Collective prepare to stage the piece at Peckham’s Asylum Chapel, co-creator Steve Fitzgerald tells us more about the show. Read his interview, then book your tickets!
The spine-chilling new stage show runs at the South London venue for three-nights only on 9, 10 and 13 October 2019.
We are all haunted by the ghosts of our past and tonight, one family will face theirs. As the light fades and shadows fall, their worst nightmares come to meet them in the dark…
Haunted is written by the team of Steve Fitzgerald and Paul Linghorn, who have a history of working together. They’ve previously collaborated on Pandemonium Performance productions including Old Scratch Cabaret and Penetrator at the Etcetera Theatre and Tales in the Dark at Abney Park.
In addition to writing and directing, Fitzgerald also appears in Haunted. He’s joined in the production by Sara Lynam, Connor Meddings, Katy Mulhern and Jacqueline Ozorio. Both Lynam and Meddings have worked with Pandemonium Performance in the past, starring opposite each other in shows including The Wizard of Oz, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Fear in the Dark.
Peckham’s atmospheric Asylum Chapel is a grade II listed building that was built in 1826 and bombed during World War II.
Haunted runs at Asylum Chapel, Caroline Gardens, Asylum Rd, Peckham, London SE15 2SQ from 9 to 13 October 2019, with performances Wednesday and Thursday at 7.15pm, Sunday at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £13. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Steve Fitzgerald on Haunted
What inspired you to create Haunted?
We were inspired to create Haunted from a love of the horror genre and a love in particular of anthology horror. We adore films like Dead Of Night and the wonderful portmanteau films created
by Amicus. We relish the idea of bringing an audience into a unique space and presenting them with a series of stories designed to chill the blood. That is the genesis of Haunted and we think that audiences are going to enjoy what we have created for them.
How much can you say about the show without giving too much away?
I don’t want to say too much to be honest, as we don’t want people to be prepared for what they are going to see.
Just to give people a little something to whet their appetites, I will say that people can expect a properly theatrical experience and that they will be seated during the show. Except when they’re jumping out of them, of course.
How did you find the Asylum Chapel and what does it bring to the show?
All credit to Sara Lynam (producer, actor) for this one. One of our goals with Uncanny Collective is to find unique spaces to perform in and Sara discovered the chapel while searching online for places that met our criteria. It is just an extraordinary place and it brings a singular atmosphere and aesthetic to Haunted. The moment the Collective stepped into the Asylum Chapel, we knew it was the right place for our debut production.
There aren’t as many horror stage productions as there are TV shows or films. Why do you think that is?
Well, I think that is changing. For a very long time I think that horror was looked down upon and seen as lowbrow. The Woman In Black has always had a place in the West End, but for a long
time I think that it was seen as a one-off and that there wasn’t really a place for horror on stage. Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s fantastic Ghost Stories has, in a lot of ways, really opened up theatres to the possibilities of horror on stage. The London Horror Festival now takes place every Oct/Nov and even the National Theatre had a horror show as it’s Christmas production last year. Horror is thriving and it couldn’t be more exciting.
What can theatre do better with horror than other mediums?
It allows an immediacy that no other form of entertainment has. It feels more intense and unsafe because an audience is in the room with the events as they unfold. On a cinema screen or in a book there is a degree of distance between the audience and the terror unfolding. Not on stage. Not in a theatre and certainly not in Haunted.
How did you get hooked on horror?
It feels like horror has always been in my blood. When I was around five years of age my parents introduced me to the genre. I distinctly remember watching The Monster Squad, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fright Night. Those three films had an enormous effect on me and I was hooked instantly. My love for the genre was immediate and intense and has only become stronger over time. In fact my first solo show was entitled Horror: A Love Story and focused entirely on my love for horror and its impact on me growing up.
Which films/film makers/writers have most influenced you?
Oh, the list is endless really, but I’ll share a few. John Carpenter has a filmography that few can rival. Halloween is my favourite horror film of all time and he’s created other classics including The Fog, The Thing and the massively underrated In The Mouth Of Madness. David Lynch is another huge inspiration, he creates a true sense of the uncanny better than any other filmmaker.
Looking at writers and literature, M. R. James is of course the undisputed master of the ghost story and he is a massive inspiration for Haunted. Algernon Blackwood is another writer whose work I have really grown to love; his short story The Listener and novella The Willows are extraordinary.
I could go on and on.
Why do you think people love horror as a genre?
Horror allows us to face our fears in safety. It is a way of confronting societal and personal demons through the medium of the genre. People love horror because it can make them scream, laugh and cry.
How was Uncanny Collective formed?
Paul Linghorn and I have been producing shows together for the past nine years. Three years ago we cast Sara Lynam and Connor Allen in our productions at Abney Park in Stoke Newington. During the shows we quickly established a very strong friendship with each other and continued to work together on subsequent shows. At the beginning of this year we all decided that it was time to create something together and Uncanny Collective is the beginning of this new venture. Uncanny Collective exists to create and celebrate horror and other dark, challenging work, both on stage and beyond.
What’s next for Uncanny Collective?
We have a production of Anthony Neilson’s Penetrator at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town from the 19-23 November. We are also working on a new podcast which should see a release at the end of the year.
What can audiences expect from a trip to see Haunted?
Audiences can expect an evening of true horror. Expect scares, laughs and perpetual darkness. Expect to be thinking about the show later that night, when you’re trying to sleep. Expect to take something home with you. Don’t worry, it’ll just stay under your bed.
Expect to be afraid. Be very afraid.