Marcia Harris has directed and acted in numerous plays with the Aiken Community Playhouse over the past several years, but with Night Chills, she finds herself on new ground.
“This is the first time I’ve directed anything with the Youth Wing,” she said. “I’m having a great time.”
Harris is one of four directors who are putting together Night Chills, a collection of four works of Edgar Allan Poe. Harris is directing The Cask of Amontillado; other short stories to be dramatized include The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Purloined Letter.
Night Chills will be presented at 8 p.m. Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27 and at 3 p.m. Oct. 21 and 27.
Performed with minimal sets and in the Bechtel Experimental Theatre at URS Performing Arts Center, the production has another twist. It will be performed in the round, which is a new concept for most of the teenagers in the show.
This collection of short stories lent itself to this form of theater because it has limited sets and is mainly focused on the skills on the actors, she said.
“There is no place for them to hide,” she said. “One good thing is that teenagers take it in stride. It makes it really neat.”
With the audience encircling the actors, the actors must learn how to keep their audience engaged even when their backs are to them.
“They have to learn how to turn to let people know what they are doing without having to be facing the audience, and they are doing a great job,” she said.
There are about 20 actors in the production, and Harris said to not let their age deter any would-be theatergoer from attending.
“Our Youth Wing is probably one of the best things we have done,” she said. “These kids are not just good; they are really good. Many of them want to make this their life’s work. They are very serious about it.”
Aiken Community Playhouse Youth Wing is free and open to students in grades four through 12. New members are welcome at any meeting, which is on second Saturdays.
Parents are welcome to join the Parent Volunteer Group.
For more information, call (803) 648-1438 or visit aikencommunityplayhouse.com.