Reviews and Press for
The Music of Erich Zann
from the Lake Charles American Press (2005), HorrorMagazine Italia (2005),
Ambush Magazine (2005), and Gambit Weekly New Orleans (2001)
Feature Story: Horror Story Sparks McNeese Graduate's Imagination
By Warren Arceneaux, Lake Charles American Press, 02 December 2005
Lake Charles native and McNeese State University theater graduate Amy Woodruff returns to her alma mater this weekend to present her adaptation of the short story The Music of Erich Zann. The production will be staged by Theatre Louisiane of New Orleans at 7:30 pm today and at 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday in Ralph Squires Hall in the Shearman Fine Arts Center on the McNeese campus.
Woodruff, artistic director of Theatre Louisiane, stars in and adapted the script for the multimedia production, based on Howard Phillips Lovecraft's 1921 short story about a young man who descends into a world of obsession and madness after hearing the work of musician Erich Zann.
Woodruff knew immediately that she wanted to stage the story after her first reading. "I had just checked out a book of Lovecraft stories from the library about five years ago, and I immediately loved the story," she said. "There is a lot left to the imagination when you read it, which makes it scarier, since so much remains unknown. I love that vagueness. It is a fascinating story. I liked the fact that it is real vague, that there is a lot left to the imagination. That sense of emptiness adds a lot of fear to the story. Lovecraft did not write many horror stories, mostly science fiction, but I discovered later that this was one of his favorite stories."
Woodruff first staged the play in 2001. It received good reviews, but she was still not satisfied. "There was good reaction to the show the first time we staged it, but I felt there was something missing, so we added some multimedia aspects, some video elements to the show. That helps show what is going on in the narrator's mind, which is where a lot of the story takes place."
Woodruff said the production is not a traditional performance. "We use many elements of storytelling rather than traditional theater. Instead of interaction with actors, there is a lot interaction with the text. So much of what is being said is in the narrator’s mind. We added video projection to help convey the narrator’s thoughts, in addition to the actions taking place on stage."
She said the supernatural elements of the story make it more appealing. "I think people are intrigued by the supernatural elements of the show. It is a traditional scary story that a lot of people are drawn to, it has a lot of entertainment value. I love stories dealing with the supernatural. There is something quite human about those stories that is very intriguing."
Woodruff graduated from McNeese in 1998, moved to New Orleans the next year (sic) and began producing her own works. In addition to performing, she has adapted stories and worked on lighting, set designs and costumes."
"McNeese was fantastic; the college theater experience was incredibly valuable," she said. "I received a great education there. One of the most important things I learned from the faculty was learning to be self-reliant, how to multitask. They stressed how important it was to learn all aspects of theater, not just performing or just lighting."
"Since I produce all my own work, that has been valuable. Also, the faculty at McNeese is very progressive. They do not do just the standard works, there were a lot of cutting-edge productions that were outside the mainstream. That is the kind of thing I like to produce. I do not want to stage the same thing everyone else is doing. I developed a taste for that at McNeese."
This will be Woodruff’s first appearance on stage at McNeese in a decade. "I am a little nervous. I want to come back with something good," she said. "I am so close to everybody there. It is also a lot of fun going home. I am jazzed up about coming home and being on stage there."
Woodruff will serve as narrator in the production. Another McNeese graduate (sic), John Tiliakos, appears in the show as Monsieur Blandot. Blake Buchert stars as Erich Zann.
originally published at: http://www.americanpress.com/
to Woodruff's artist page | to Theatre Louisiane
Feature Story: Le repliche di Erich Zann -- Torna in scena uno spettacolo
del Theatre Louisiane basato sul racconto di Lovecraft
Autore: Andrea Bonazzi | Data: 7 marzo 2005 | c2003 Associazione culturale Delos Books
Una suggestiva foto di scena
Un giovane rievoca i suoi giorni da povero studente in una cupa città europea quando viveva in un decrepito palazzo della misteriosa Rue D'Auseil. Lì strinse amicizia col vecchio violinista del piano di sopra, un tedesco di nome Erich Zann. Ascoltando la musica sovrumana di Zann, il protagonista ebbe la possibilità di esplorare un mondo di follia, e di scoprire terrificanti presenze aliene e incombenti. Questa la trama del celebre La musica di Erich Zann di Howard Phillips Lovecraft, che ritorna a essere rappresentato sul palcoscenico dagli americani del Theatre Louisiane.
Da tempo attivo nell'area di New Orleans, il gruppo del Louisiane si compone di diverse individualità artistico-produttive che, come dichiarato sulle pagine del sito ufficiale, riuniscono le proprie forze nella realizzazione di progetti teatrali itineranti. E' il caso di questo adattamento di The Music of Erich Zann, riproposto in una nuova versione ampliata e multimediale. L'originale produzione, infatti, è stata portata in scena già nel gennaio e marzo del 2001, con buona accoglienza di pubblico e di critica: un'approvazione generale che ha convinto la compagnia a ritornare sullo spettacolo, senza limitarsi alla semplice replica ma sviluppandone i contenuti e le modalità espressive. Previsto quindi l'utilizzo di maschere, di elaborati movimenti scenici, di suggestive musiche originali e di repertorio, oltre che - ed è una notivà - di proiezioni video di stampo surrealista.
Creato e diretto da Amy Woodruff sulla base dell'omonimo racconto di Lovecraft, il progetto va in scena dal 1 aprile presso lo Zeitgeist Arts Center di New Orleans e vede protagonisti la stessa regista nel ruolo del Narratore, Kevin M. Lee in quello di Erich Zann e John Tiliakos come Monsieur Blandot.
Risorse in rete:
Il sito del Theatre Louisiane - www.theatrelouisiane.com
originally published at: http://www.horrormagazine.it/notizie/787/
to Woodruff's artist page | to Theatre Louisiane
Review: Trodding The Boards [theatre and the arts] -- The Music of Erich Zann
By Patrick Shannon, III (CrescentCityChronicles.net), theatre critic, Ambush Magazine, 26 April 2005 (vol 23)
The Music of Erich Zann is a play based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story of horror. The play was presented by Theatre Louisiane at Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. A young man, The Narrator (Amy Woodruff) recalls his days as an impoverished student. The setting is in a dismal and decaying, unspecified European city. The Narrator (Amy Woodruff) lives in a decrepit and depressing apartment building in a mysterious district on the Rue d'Auseil. The decrepit building is run by the infirm Mounsieur Blandot (John Tiliakos). The young student befriends an old mysterious German viol-player named Erich Zann (Kevin M. Lee), who lives on the floor above him. As the young man becomes infatuated with Erich Zann's (Kevin M. Lee) inhuman music emanating from the upper rooms, he finds a world of horror, obsession, madness, and a terrifying presence from an alternate realm.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born at 9 a. m. on August 20, 1890, at his family home at 454 (then numbered 194) Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island. Starting with the death of his father when he was three years old, his family had many misfortunes. As a child and through his schooling H.P. Lovecraft had many varied, and at times esoteric interests. Though mostly reclusive, he did marry Sonia Haft Greene. The marriage ended in divorce. During his life he made his living writing fiction of horror and the fantastic for the pulp magazines using the name H.P. Lovecraft. Unfortunately it is only after his death that his writings have made profits and gained respect. Because of illness he entered Jane Brown Memorial Hospital on March 10, 1937, where he died five days later. He was buried on March 18, 1937, at the Phillips family plot at Swan Point Cemetery. He is most famous for his stories on his invented Cthulhu mythology; and is recognized as a master of horror. His works unfortunately have not been filmed well so far. Such films as The Dunwich Horror (with Sandra Dee and Dean Stockwell), and most recently Dagon fail to capture the spirit of his works. Also, now there is more interest in his other works such as poetry.
The good Director's Note in the program said: "Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937), a New Englander, is probably best known as a writer of weird fiction that centers around the supernatural. His works have been the inspiration for many recent writers of science fiction and horror, including Stephen King and Clive Barker."
The Music of Erich Zann, so very different from much of Lovecraft's work was actually one of his own personal favorites. This desolate story brings us into a world of strange, echoing emptiness and dares us to look into the void. The performance piece was created and directed from H.P. Lovecraft's story of The Music of Erich Zann by Amy Woodruff. The short story was published in 1921.
Amy Woodruff was The Narrator and as such gave a convincingly chilling performance as the young curious student whose curiosity leads to a surreal trip into a hallucinogenic world of near madness. "I tried to give the impression of a disembodied voice in most of my monologues," she told me after the performance. Her direction and acting were inspired. She broke all the theatrical rules, and made this version of H.P. Lovecraft's story resonate with eerie elements of emotional feeling such as when she was just barely out of the spotlight to speak her lines. She used darkness almost as another character in the play. (This was interesting as darkness features in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft such as The Hunter in the Dark, The Colour Out of Space, and The Whisperer in the Darkness.) The entire show was done in dim lighting with a few moments of spotlighting the three characters. This was a decidedly enchanting and mysterious production that kept the audience breathlessly waiting to see what strange other worldly action was about to slither into the playing area. It was mindful of certain Asian shadow plays in which darkness becomes conceptually visible, and light leaves the stage to plunge itself into an inexplicable blackness.
Kevin M. Lee was Erich Zann, the ancient viol player whose glimpse into another world led him to compose his unearthly music. He wore a large hideous face mask, spoke no words, and played his viol with a ghostly touch, crouched over, and slow moving with age. Kevin M. Lee gave a demented perception of the world that one could see out of his garret window, a world that perhaps existed only in his broken mind. The face mask was a creation of papier-mache with long thin chin, deep set eyes, and a head of raffia hair that sprayed stiffly back beyond the fore head into the darkness. He was seldom seen in any light except the glow of a single candle and some blue stage lights.
John Tiliakos was Monsieur Blandot the landlord of the crumbling apartment house that led to a world of horror for his tenants as he clumped around it with his humpback and a limp. John Tiliakos was wonderful in the use of his artificial physical deformities; his right foot bent at a right angle to his ankle and a walking cane, each thump an echo to his painful gasps and groans as he groped his way around the darkly lit set.
A projection screen was used on stage to show horrible images of insect closeups, thunderstorms with lightening, views of the ancient European city seen from the mad musician's window, and various other quick flickering images in both color and black and white, all of which successfully reflected the cumulative chaos of a mind sliding into madness. Chrispin Barnes and Amy Woodruff devised very effective audio/video projection designs.
Costumes, mask, props design, and construction were by Amy Woodruff. The costumes were nicely done in silver gray and blue. Blue was echoed in the simple set, but these colors were dimmed to almost complete darkness by the use of the little stage lighting and heavy dark pure black areas of the playing space. The entire collection of props, especially the masks and costumes were effective and brilliantly conceived by Amy Woodruff.
Blake Buchert ran the front of the house and was the audio operator. The viol music used was by several composers such as a bit of Mozart and a lot of the composition written for the film, The Red Violin. It was a collage of viol sounds carefully selected to create the mood approaching horror of the story. Brandi Scanion and Stella Peralta were the lighting operators. They kept the right balance of creepy utter darkness and light. Melissa Prejean Tupper was responsible for the wardrobe, and was the Props Assistant. Wesley Tupper was the Production Assistant.
Amy Woodruff and her accomplished staff of actors and technical people accomplished creating her vision to the extend that the deeper levels of the weird and wonderful story of H.P. Lovecraft mythology was successfully materialized. It was a unique and mesmerizing production; and she and her cast and crew have succeeded where most films have failed.
It is good this show was revived from the original debut at the Eighth Annual DramaRama. That performance featured Amy Woodruff as The Narrator and Chris Genua as both Erich Zann and Monsieur Blandot. (I think this production with two actors for each of these characters is an excellent version.) Sara Schaefer was The Creative Consultant for that performance presented at The Pickery Art Space of New Orleans Louisiana, which is no longer in existence.
originally published at: http://www.ambushmag.com/
to Woodruff's artist page | to Theatre Louisiane
Reviews: Rivertown's 'Type; DramaRama Hits
By Dalt Wonk, theatre critic, Gambit Weekly New Orleans, 30 January 2001
A tintype was a type of photograph on metal. It was a step between the daguerreotype and the paper print. "Tintypes," the musical revue, is like a pleasant, light-hearted flip through a collective family album from turn-of-the-century America.
In the current production at Rivertown Rep, Lance Spellerberg's attractive set represents a giant ornate frame in which photographic images from the era are projected. These illuminate the major themes of the show: arrival (of immigrants), ingenuity and inventions, the factory, rich and poor, etc.
The five performers represent types or individuals or both. Charlie, played with sad-sack charm by Randy Juneau, is The Immigrant. He is trying not merely to adjust, but to become a Yankee Doodle Dandy with a Yankee Doodle sweetheart of his own. His adventures are shown in pantomime, a nod to silent films and in particular to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. This bittersweet, brave little European Everyman threads his way through a labyrinth of generic disappointments, usually having to do with romance. Sometimes his trials are amusing, sometimes the vaporous sentimentality of the material overcomes our admiration for the efforts involved.
The other archetype is Susannah, who represents the African-American presence -- or rather absence, as a complacent and institutionalized bigotry was a significant tarnish on the Gilded Age. Kiane Davis has a winning manner and sings well, putting across plaintive songs like 'Wayfaring Stranger' and 'Motherless Child' with a unaffected conviction.
The three remaining actors play individuals, who also represent types. Donald Loupe Jr. is a very bully Teddy Roosevelt, the can-do spirit of the age. Claire Conti gives us a formidable Emma Goldman, the socialist passionaria of the Lower East Side. Lovely Nicole Rolin Teague exudes the poised, mischievous vivacity of Anna Held, a (perhaps) French actress brought over by Florenz Ziegfeld to grace his stage and his bed. Inexplicably, one of the most moving moments of the show is her brief rendition of 'Toy Land'.
The score is composed of hits culled from the decades between 1890 and 1920, and features famous as well as forgotten classics by such greats as George M. Cohan, Scott Joplin, Victor Herbert, Bert Williams and John Philip Sousa. David Hoover directed this tuneful amble through yesteryear. Julie Winn was responsible for the tasteful costumes. Alton Geno did the apt, if undemanding, choreography.
Although Tintypes is mild and decorous, there has been no problem recently finding shows that are raucous and strident. DramaRama 8 at the Contemporary Arts Center was fairly bursting at the seams with iconoclasm. A trio of failed seminarian rockers wailed satyric sacrilege, while a nun boogied in the wings; a tough-talking dame in a black slip shot the bird as her curtain call; a Vietnam War vet juggler pelted the audience with bits of raw liver -- to cite just a few of the refreshing, insightful artistic innovations that made this annual event such a crowd-pleaser. These sardonic moods were balanced, however, by more uplifting visions -- most strikingly, a bevy of Isadorable nymphs clad in little more than body paint and wings prancing and gyrating beneath a pair of giant scarlet lips.
Of course, there is no way to do justice to DramaRama, because you inevitably miss more than you see. But if I was to pick a stand-out, it would have to be The Music of Erich Zann by Theatre Louisiane. Based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, this short piece was fascinating; the staging was imaginative, the acting was good, and -- unlike many other presentations -- it was actually about something.
Amy Woodruff (who also wrote the script) played a young man recounting an incident from his impoverished student days in Paris. Chris Genua, wearing a full mask, played a mysterious, mute old violinist connected somehow to demonic forces.
At this late date in the postmodern world, it has become artistic dogma that the unconscious is released through illogic, incompatible images and absurdity. But Lovecraft's protagonist, with the insistent rationality of his monologue, throws open a sudden door on the dream world.
Theatre Louisiane has been doing plays late in the night at unusual locations. According to their playbill, this is going to change. The Music of Erich Zann will be having a revival at the end of March at The Pickery, where the group plans to do a season that includes Laughing Wild by Christopher Durang and Birds by Aristophanes.
One of the functions of DramaRama is to give new talent a forum. Clearly, amid all the exuberance and excess, the annual festival is still living up to its mission.
originally published at: http://www.bestofneworleans.com/
to Woodruff's artist page | to Theatre Louisiane