Jack Studio Theatre - Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill - An Interview with Simon James Collier

The Okai Collier Company keeps Simon James Collier pretty busy, but never one to shy away from a challenge he jumped at the chance to bring a double bill to the stage.

During a rare break we managed to get Simon to answer a few quick questions to give us some insight on such a big undertaking...

What drew you to the project?
I am a life-long fan of the horror genre, and in particular 'Gothic Horror', and there's no one quite like Edgar Allan Poe to truly capture the essence of what 'frightens us'. The challenge of a project like this is to successfully translate Poe's themes and ideas from the written word to a theatrical performance... something I think we've managed to do thanks not only to the original stories, but also to the input from the cast and creative teams, all of whom have worked tirelessly to bring Adam and I's scripts to life.

What were you working on before?

​I worked on a series of Gothic Horror productions (Frankenstein, The Corruption of Dorian Gray, Jekyll and Hyde and Dracula), all of which did extremely well... so it has been a joy to continue in this 'horror vein' with these two shows.

What is your role in the shows & how difficult is it juggling two very different styles?

I adapted 'The Masque of the Red Death' and have produced both that and 'The Fall of the House of Usher'. The challenge has been to put together an enthusiastic and committed team, to work simultaneously on two productions, in a limited amount of time with very little money. I am extremely optimistic about the final result, having been involved in and watched every step of the process from casting to final production​... it was a big ask of everyone and my gut feeling is that they've more than delivered.

Who is your favourite character? 
The Jester in 'Red Death'. I don't like clowns, or Jester's, so watching Anna Larkin bring this creepy character to life with director Omar F. Okai has been absolutely fascinating.​

Which of the shows is your personal favourite and why?
​I actually like both... 'Red Death' because of the visual spectacle and themes that it deals with... also the fact that all the characters in it are absolutely vile... and 'House of Usher' because of it's dark humour and high drama... there's something in both pieces for everyone.​
What are you up to next?
​ Another Edgar Allan Poe adaptation... this time 'The Raven', which I have adapted and am directing... it is going to be a part of The London Horror Festival 2017 and then have a run at The Etcetera Theatre in Camden.​

The Edgar Allan Poe Double Bill runs at Jack Studio Theatre 6 - 24 June 2017 at 7.45pm

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