PRE-FRINGE PROFILE: The Gravity of Ghosts


CAVEAT: I have worked with the producer and performers in various contexts in the spoken-word scene over the years.

SHOW TITLE: The Gravity of Ghosts
PRODUCER: Paula Reed Nancarrow
SHOW DESCRIPTION: What draws us to ghosts, and what draws ghosts to us? Three storytellers and a poet explore the past that weights our present, the meaning of the deaths we live, the gravity of ghosts.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: I know everyone involved to be insanely talented. That, by itself, would be insufficient, since that applies to a pretty freakin’ large number of shows in the Festival — but, hell, I’m a horror writer with a deep passion for a good old-fashioned ghost-story. Combining those two things makes this one a no-brainer for me.


Just who do you think you are, anyway?

We are four spoken word artists – three who identify as storytellers, and one who is more often a poet. Richard Rousseau’s a 45 year stage veteran trained under Spaulding Gray; Ward Rubrecht, a brave new voice with traditional storytelling roots; then there’s Cole Sarar, who came to the stage via slam poetry; and me, who essentially performs in lieu of publication. I felt we had a diversity of experience, tone and technique that would make for an interesting Fringe show. And it appears I was right.

So what’s the big idea?

The show is a study in what draws us to ghosts, and what draws ghosts to us. Richard portrays E.J. Smith, the captain of the Titanic, and explores our obsession with that tragedy. Ward goes into ghost bike territory to examine his own relationship with death. Cole’s is a work of fiction which blurs the line between psychological thriller and supernatural fantasy. For me, the ghost is in the machine – my grandmother’s sewing machine, to be precise – and in my genetic inheritance from her.

How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?

I wanted to explore the many different ways we live with ghosts, and what being haunted itself means in the context of storytelling. There’s a reason the ghost story is one of the quintessential narratives.  Telling a story is itself an act of haunting the present by imposing structure on experience, real or imagined.  How we present our ghosts says a lot about who we are.

Why should I care?

An ensemble show is a unique opportunity to blend voices and create stories that work in concert and have a satisfying emotional arc.  You should come to see if we can pull it off.  We’re also offering an opportunity to participate in the creative work by contributing to a chapbook on the theme. You can find out more about that here:

Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.

If you can’t unfriend
Your dead on Facebook – you know
Why we wrote this show.


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