The Poe Asylum

FULL-LENGTH PLAY. THE POE ASYLUM is an immersive theatrical adaptation based on four terrifying short stories and one tragic poem by master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Audience members move from room to room in the asylum, watching and listening as stories of horror unfold. A captive recounts their imprisonment and torture. A woman calls out for her lost daughter, only to be answered by an enigmatic raven...
FULL-LENGTH PLAY. THE POE ASYLUM is an immersive theatrical adaptation based on four terrifying short stories and one tragic poem by master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Audience members move from room to room in the asylum, watching and listening as stories of horror unfold. A captive recounts their imprisonment and torture. A woman calls out for her lost daughter, only to be answered by an enigmatic raven. Another patient fights with the uncontrollable and irrational desire to commit murder. But these are merely stories told by troubled minds. What is the true pain lurking behind the tales these men and women tell? The audience will have to ponder if these individuals are really patients in a mental asylum, or if they are simply trapped in their own minds by the demons they created. And then comes the greatest question of all: where is hope?

THE POE ASYLUM may be performed as an immersive piece, or traditionally staged on a proscenium at the director's discretion. While there are five scenes in total, rights may be acquired to perform fewer scenes.

If performed in full as an immersive piece, cast size may be as few as 9 with doubling, or as many as 16+.
If performed on a stage with scene breaks, cast size may be as few as 4 with doubling.
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The Poe Asylum

Recommended by

  • Doug DeVita:
    18 Nov. 2020
    The joy in this work lies not just in the words of Edgar Allan Poe, but in how deftly – and faithfully – Rachel Luann Strayer uses them to create a completely modern, yet Poesian theatrical experience. As a piece of immersive theatre it is a brilliant creation; that it can also clearly work in a more traditional, proscenium-bound staging is a testament to how well-crafted it is. I would love to see a production, be it on stage or in the rooms of a large, spooky old house; either way, I imagine it would be a thrilling adventure.
  • Ky Weeks:
    27 Oct. 2020
    A really neat vision of the source material, residing in the gripping power of Poe's writing, that stays true to the intent and atmosphere of the tales. While the text of these standalone stories is carried to the stage, the framing and staging are used to tell a single connecting narrative, effectively gifting us with a thread of multiple stories at once that's still cohesive and whole. The immersive nature of the play is not only fitting for Poe, it ties his work to the horror tradition of the haunted house, a unique take on the familiar.
  • Aleks Merilo:
    3 Mar. 2019
    Reminiscent of "Sleep No More", Strayer has picked a near perfect vessel for an interactive, 4th wall breaking, theatrical venture. The journey of Poe's works from story-to-stage is deftly handled- These are not simply transcribed texts. Strayer's adaptations are respectful and reverent to the source material, yet with the gentlest of touches, she mines dramatic potential, especially in the cases of "The Premature Burial" and "The Black Cat." This script presents many, many exciting possibilities, and would be a feast for actors, directors, and designers. For an audience, this would truly be a one-of-a-kind experience.

Character Information

  • Patient 1 (The Raven)
    Adult,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Female
    A mother who has lost her child.
  • Figure (The Raven)
    Adult,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    A raven, or possibly the child's father.
  • Patient 2 (The Pit & the Pendulum)
    Adult,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    A sufferer of PTSD.
  • Figures (The Pit & the Pendulum)
    Any age,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    Three or more tormentors.
  • Patient 3 (The Black Cat)
    Adult,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    An alcoholic.
  • Figure (The Black Cat)
    Adult,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Female / Female Identifying
    The alcoholic's wife and also the black cat.
  • Patient 4 (The Tell-Tale Heart)
    Any age,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    A sufferer of paranoid schizophrenia.
  • Figures (The Tell-Tale Heart)
    Any age,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    Three or more tormentors.
  • Patient 5 (The Premature Burial)
    Any age,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    A sufferer of taphophobia.
  • Doctor (The Premature Burial)
    Adult,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    A doctor but also a tormentor.
  • Double (The Premature Burial)
    Any age,
    Any race / ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    The patient as they were or could have been.
  • Hope
    Any age,
    Any race/ethnic identity
    ,
    Any gender
    The personification of hope.

Production History

  • University
    ,
    Keystone College
    ,
    2018
  • Fringe
    ,
    Ghostlight Productions
    ,
    2016