For the past decade, Jonathan Josephson and his team at Unbound Productions have crafted some of the most elaborate Halloween frights in Los Angeles by staging live play adaptations of classic horror stories in their Wicked Lit performance series. The audience-immersive evenings lead sold-out audiences through up to three different plays staged throughout the indoor and outdoor grounds of the Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum in Altadena.
On Sunday, Josephson will present a different sort of audience experience when he hosts a “Wicked Lit” book signing event, in which some of the series’ top playwrights will read from their plays and discuss their creative process at the Dark Delicacies horror bookstore in Burbank. The evening represents another step in the maturation of Unbound’s efforts to bring classics to modern audiences in unique ways, while also enabling their best works to be read by far-flung audiences.
“We wanted to find a way for our ‘Wicked Lit’ plays to be enjoyed by our wider audience, and our fabulous publisher Steele Spring Stage Rights (stagerights.com) has helped us do exactly that,” says Josephson. “They’ve sold a few hundred copies of the books and have also helped us get our plays produced throughout the country, including right here at Eliot Arts Magnet in Altadena. In addition to publishing the plays to read just like any other book, theatrical publishers also license scripts to producers, theatres, and schools in order to mount their own productions.”
Joining Josephson at the event are Paul Millet (adaptor of ‘The Cask of Amontillado,’ ‘The Shadowy Third’, and others), Susannah Myrvold (adaptor of ‘The Ebony Frame’), Trey Nichols (adaptor of ‘From Beyond’), Jeff G. Rack (adaptor of ‘The Monkey’s Paw,’ ‘The Doll,’ and others). The readings and discussion will be moderated by Steve Biodrowski, head of the website Hollywood Gothique.
“Dark Delicacies is our favorite horror-themed bookstore and gift shop in the world,” says Josephson. “They also produce awesome signing events fairly regularly, so once ‘Volume II’ came out, we reached out about putting something together, and here we are.”
The three volumes of “Wicked Lit” books include two containing nine short plays apiece, and one featuring the script for their most ambitious production ever, “The Legend(s) of Sleepy Hollow.” “Wicked Lit — Volume I” features “the strongest scripts and most compelling adaptations that could work both as site-specific productions or for producers working in theaters and schools,” while “Volume II” features plays that were produced in the time since “Volume I” was published in 2016 “as well as some that couldn’t fit that edition.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Unbound — which is also run by Josephson’s partner Millet — have more horror adaptations up their sleeves, while planning “special surprises we can’t discuss yet.” Considering they have also successfully staged two editions of audience-immersive Sherlock Holmes plays in their less-frequent Mystery Lit series using an actual historic train depot on the grounds of the LA County Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Arcadia, it’s safe to assume any new ideas will be innovative. Josephson always keeps his eyes open for ideas at events he attends.
“I recently went to an author talk and book signing at, of all places, Mountain View Mausoleum,” says Josephson. “Les Klinger, the foremost Sherlock Holmes scholar in the world, gave a fantastic talk at the Chapel of the Gardens at the Mausoleum where we staged ‘The Chimes: a Goblin Story’ last year. He had actually read my adaptation of ‘Holmes, Sherlock, and The Consulting Detective’ and been very complimentary, and his knowledge about Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was inspiring. He’s written several books and annotated several anthologies that are just great.”
“Wicked Lit” Book Signing: Playwrights Read from Their Plays” takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Dark Delicacies, 3512 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. Attendees are asked to buy at least one of the books in-store if they wish to have copies signed. Call (818) 556-6660. Visit darkdel.com.