If you’re familiar with Unbound Productions’ Wicked Lit as a traditional part of the Pasadena area’s Halloween, then you might not think about stopping in the Sunday staged readings at A Noise Within as part of your happy holidays.
But, as Unbound Productions Executive Director Jonathan Josephson reminded during a recent email exchange, ghost stories are very much a part of American holiday traditions.
After all, Josephson explains, “’A Christmas Carol’ is a ghost story, perhaps the most beloved ghost story of all time.
“Experiencing storytelling is all about sharing time with friends and loved ones, and gathering round the campfire, literally or otherwise, which inherently tightens the bonds of families and communities by creating shared experiences,” says Josephson.
The three stories chosen all have to do with love and connection (or lack thereof) — the unbridled passion of a zealous researcher and the heartbreak he finds in unmitigated rejection, a mother’s love for her missing daughter and the lengths — and planes of existence — that she’ll travel to for answers, and misplaced romantic love that gets thrown in face of a young woman which leads to take a drastic sort of revenge, Josephson points out.
“The stories of these plays are all larger than life but also reflect the best and worst parts of humanity — they engage the senses and bring folks together,” he says. “And when better than when it’s cold and misty or rainy and when many of us have time away from jobs and schools and ‘regular’ life to spend time with stories, together, and then engage with them thereafter?”
The bill includes “From Beyond” from an H.P. Lovecraft story that was adapted by Trey Nichols. Directed by Shaina Rosenthal, the piece asks, does a scientist trust his eyes or his brain?
In “The Unholy Sisters” (inspired by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger’s “The Malleus Maleficarum” and adapted by Susannah Myrvold), is about real witches and hypocrisy. Paul Millet directs.
The most famous of these tales is probably “The Grove of Rashomon,” which Josephson adapted from the famous Ryūnosuke Akutagawa short story. Directed by Darrell Kunitomi, the story looks at the death of a samurai from different and conflicting points of view.
This presentation is part of the Noise Now community outreach program which, according to the press release, is “a commitment to being a great neighbor, to building relationships with audiences and artists, and to demonstrating our eagerness to listen well and respond courageously,” writes Josephson.
Unbound Productions specializes in creating “immersive, theatrical adaptations of classic stories” with Wicked Lit, Mystery Lit and History Lit events. There’s a kinship between their goals and A Noise Within. As Josephson notes, “Unbound Productions and A Noise Within have had a marketing/co-promotion relationship for some time. There is definitely overlap between our audiences and aesthetics. While we produce exclusively world premiere adaptations of classic stories (or further productions of plays we originated) as immersive theatre events, and A Noise Within generally produces existing classics, the through-line of looking to our collective history as a way of informing and igniting modern thought and modern audiences is nearly identical. So getting to play together is so natural! We’re bringing new ideas of using the space and presenting readings (in our signature ‘enhanced’ style), and ANW has been incredibly helpful with infrastructural support and helping to cross-promote.”
This weekend, take time to shiver and meet your neighbors, or cuddle closer to your loved ones while hearing tales of love and life and love lost. It might spark a discussion or provide a short respite from the holiday bustle.
Wicked Lit Staged Readings at A Noise Within is on Sunday, Dec. 15, 6:30 p.m. at the John and Barbara Lawrence Hall, 3352 E. Foothill, Blvd., Pasadena. Tickets begin at $10, pay what you choose. For more info call (626) 356-3100 or visit anoisewithin.org/play/wicked-lit.