STP Preview: ‘Poe’

Senior theatre major Drew Poplin will retell Edgar Allan Poe’s final days in Poplin’s original play 7 p.m. Oct. 23 in Alford Auditorium. Poplin’s Senior Theatre Project (STP) “Poe” looks into Poe’s mysterious last days. 

“They randomly found him (Poe) in Baltimore on a park bench delirious, took him to a hospital, and he died the next day,” Poplin said. “So there’s a lot of mystery surrounding his life. This is a fictional story about the last days of his life – just purely speculation.”

The STP follows a conversation between Poe (played by Poplin) and a mysterious visitor (played by theatre major Raven Simmons) who is attempting to blackmail Poe. Throughout their conversation, the two recount some of Poe’s stories. Works such as “Mask of Red Death,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” are read throughout the course of the play. Some of Poe’s other works, such as“The Raven” and “The Black Cat,” are also referenced.

Junior theatre major, Raven Simmons plays opposite Poplin as the mysterious visitor. Photo Credit: Naomi Harward

Junior theatre major, Raven Simmons plays opposite Poplin as the mysterious visitor.
(photo: Naomi Harward)

Poplin said he wanted to perform an original story for his STP, so he began searching through classic literature for inspiration. Poe’s works caught his eye.

“I read some more of his stories, and I noticed a lot of them share common themes with each other,” Poplin said. “So I thought it would be cool if I could make a cohesive narrative between a lot of them.”

And so arose “Poe: a Tale of Horror.”

Theatre major Stuart Leach, who plays supporting characters, described the show as having many deep themes and well-developed characters.

“The fact that he (Poplin) wrote this himself is so incredible, because it’s really, really good,” Leach said.

After Poplin knew the direction the play would take, he had to push to get things done on time. With the semester beginning and the fall production of “Father of the Bride,” this proved to be a challenge.

Poplin had to complete an entire first draft and find a director in the span of a month. Poplin approached senior theatre major Anna Porter early on about directing the show.

“I approached her before the summer (began) before I even wrote the play,” Poplin said. “Since I wanted to do something a little darker, a little creepier, and a little bit more experimental, I knew that she would be down for it and that we had a lot of the same things in mind.”

The STP serves as Poplin’s capstone project for his degree. At Cedarville, Poplin has been involved with three other STPs and this year’s production of “Father of the Bride.” But when he first began participating in theatre, Poplin said he wasn’t very interested in on-stage acting.

“I wanted to do film. I thought theatre acting was just this big, bombastic, very loud, very elaborate thing,” he said. “Coming here, I’ve definitely had to reevaluate that viewpoint. I’ve definitely come to respect the art form of theatre a whole lot more.”

“Poe” will be right on time for the Halloween festivities. 

“When you come to see it,” Leach said, “it will really stay with you for a while. It’s just that good. You will leave different.”

Admission is free.

Michael Shawn Carbaugh II is a sophomore music composition major and arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He enjoys all kinds of writing, whether it be with musical notes or descriptive words.

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