CAVEAT: I have collaborated *extensively* with Tim Uren in the past.
SHOW TITLE: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls
PRODUCER: Ghoulish Delights
SHOW DESCRIPTION: The last heir to a cursed lineage returns to his ancestral home and discovers horrors hidden within. This critically acclaimed show returns to mark the tenth anniversary of its premiere to sold out houses.
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: Tim is one of the local masters of horror, and I bear a fondness all out of measure for Lovecraft’s slow-burning madness.
INTERVIEWEE: Tim Uren (writer/performer)
Just who do you think you are, anyway?
I am Tim Uren, the Chief Ghoul of Ghoulish Delights, a Minneapolis-based theater company dedicated to bringing original and classic tales of horror and suspense to the stage. I’ve been an actor, director, and playwright in the Twin Cities for over twenty years. I also write and design for board games and card games.
So what’s the big idea?
The Rats in the Walls is a one-man staging of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic tale about the last heir to a cursed lineage. In the story, an American named Delapore moves to England in 1921 to claim Exham Priory, the ancient home of his family. The great stone building was abandoned three centuries earlier after a distant ancestor was accused of butchering his family. Once Delapore restores Exham Priory, he begins hearing the mysterious sound of vermin beckoning him to the terrible truth about himself and his family.
How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?
Ten years ago I had the bright idea to pair the industrial ruin aesthetic of Mill City Museum with the dark secrets of Exham Priory. The concept was to simply use the verbatim text of the story as a script, changed only slightly due to some heinous racial slurs. (Lovecraft, man. That guy could really suck sometimes.) I’d wanted to produce a staged version of the story for a long time and when the opportunity presented itself, the results were fantastic. My strange little experiment managed to sell out houses and earn critical acclaim. It really helped to shape my whole career from that point forward. And now I’m bringing it back to celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary!
Why should I care?
Aside from the sheer pleasure of hearing Lovecraft’s mastery of language aloud, the story contains a powerful message about the hubris of thinking that we are somehow immune to our own history. The abhorrent elitism of Delapore’s ancestors is chilling because it is so persistent. It survived generation after generation, and it takes only a little observation to see it in Delapore’s own life. Until he was seven, he grew up on a slave plantation. Throughout the story, he makes several dismissive comments about servants and peasants. To our modern eyes, he may at first seem a very contemporary person but when the truth is revealed, he is shown to be much like his barbrous forefathers. I think of the story every time I hear a discussion of how far our culture has come in regard to racial politics. We haven’t come that far. And our history isn’t that far in the past.
Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.
Through layers of history
The Rats in the Walls
Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!