Photo credit: PoeFest via Facebook

Our marketing intern, Stephanie, attended a showing of the Arizona Curriculum Theater’s annual PoeFest performances, and offered to share her experience with our readers. Enjoy!

As someone who loves both horror and Edgar Allan Poe, I was excited to be able to attend my first ever PoeFest at the Hotel San Carlos this past Saturday. When first hearing about PoeFest, one might believe that it’s a recitation or reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s works. This isn’t the case. In fact, PoeFest is a performance of select stories and poems by a team of five professional actors, given in vivid, emotional detail.

Approaching the Hotel San Carlos’ doors, I felt thrilled. The Hotel San Carlos is known not only for its historical nature but its spirits as well, according to legend. As I walked into the aptly named Ghost Lounge, I was directed through the lobby past plush 1930’s style furniture and a strategically placed cardboard cutout of Poe himself. I sat in the back rows of room, viewing the simple staging for the show – a black curtain as a backdrop with a small stage for the actors and dim yellow lighting throughout the room from antique lamps above us. For the next hour I was treated to a sampling of Edgar Allan Poe’s works presented in a format in which I had never imagined his stories.

The first piece I caught, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, was a riveting performance by actor James David Porter. Porter delivers the short story about a man’s descent into madness after murdering his roommate in a manner which is not only haunting but can be mildly humorous. The humor, however, is the type which makes one wonder whether they should release that nervous giggle or not. His laughter that descends into an almost sob-like sound during one point in the piece is a nice touch, giving authenticity to the performance of insanity and the character he is representing.

The evening ended with what is arguably Poe’s best known work, “The Raven”, performed by Beau Heckman. Heckman gives an equally stunning performance in a quieter, more subtle delivery. He whispers, rasps and states the word, “Nevermore” in various tones throughout the performance, adding nuance to a story which could have otherwise been delivered rather flatly. Heckman’s facial expressions perfectly capture the essence of both madness and grief apparent in “The Raven”.

While the running time is anywhere between an 60-75 minutes depending on which show you attend, PoeFest is well worth the money. The intimate setting allows for a more immersive experience. If you’re seeking a uniquely spooky experience this Halloween, I definitely recommend catching a showing of PoeFest.

PoeFest features rotating stories every Friday and Saturday until October 31, beginning at 8 p.m. Extra showings of “The Raven” will be staged at downtown’s The Rosson House on October 31, running every 20 minutes. Tickets range from $22 – $50.

Hotel San Carlos, 202 N. Central Ave, Phoenix 85004
Rosson House Museum,