Fog seeps underneath the black curtain. Candles flicker golden rays of light across the stage. It’s quiet until a shriek is heard in the dark, then chaos consumes the room with banging, stomping, chains clanking and eerie music blaring.
This was the backdrop to most scenes during the performance of Elon University’s senior theatre studies majors’ senior thesis, “Lucid Nightmares,” Feb. 24-26.
“Lucid Nightmares” is an original work written by the senior theatre studies majors and minors based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe helped introduce American readers to the short detective fiction story in the 19th century. His emphasis on macabre, gore imagery and overwhelming feelings of abysmal darkness helped champion gothic romanticism, and became a mainstay in American literature. During this time period, American literature made important advancements that finally distanced itself from British influence and took a form of its own.
“We wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, that was in the public domain, and that could be very creative and could give us a way to use all of our different majors,” Sarah Beese, senior theatre studies and history double major, said about choosing Poe as the play’s subject.
When most Elon students hear the word “thesis,” they think of lengthy papers and agonizingly endless days and nights spent in dark corners in the library. But for theatre students, this term takes on an entirely different meaning. Seniors in the Department of Performing Arts are instead tasked with working on a production team of a performance.
Beese and the three other seniors working on the show, Elizabeth Floyd, Jayme Mantos and Ashley Meeks, started the production process in May when they began thinking about a topic to focus their play on. Rehearsals started in January and full-scale rehearsals started in February.
The theatre studies seniors of the past haven’t done a production of this scale as their thesis before.
“The senior thesis usually entails working on another production,” Beese said, including helping out with BA productions, design, costumes, etc.
Sophomore vocal performance major Corbin McConnell plays the role of Charles and police officer.
“The production process has been a lot of reminding myself of how much I love what I do,” McConnell said about being able to be in the show.
When he found out he was cast in the show, he went up to each of the production team members and personally thanked them for allowing him to perform in his first college level show.
Phillip Danieley, a sophomore creative writing and psychology major, did a lot of acting in high school but he might not have ever gotten a chance to perform in a college level show if not for this production.
“I’ve missed being on stage so much and it’s been great to finally do this and be with great people who care about what they’re doing, very driven, motivated people,” Danieley said.
“Lucid Nightmares” was performed in the Harold Acting studio, and every performance has been sold out, people even came to the final dress rehearsal so that they would be able to see it performed.