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Students Read and Perform Poe Classics

More than 170 years after their publication, the tales of terror created by the renowned Dark Romantic author and poet, Edgar A. Poe, continue to entice readers luring them into the dark recesses of the human mind. As part of the curriculum in the American Literature classes for juniors at New Albany High School, an in-depth study of four Poe short stories and his classic poem, “The Raven” introduce students to the mastery of this writer. In conjunction with drama instructor Elliott Lemberg, the junior American Literature teachers have worked to present the stories both in their written form as well as in a student-created drama production that was presented to the junior American Literature classes. Lemberg’s drama students created a production based upon the stories, tying the studies done in the literature classes together with the curriculum of the drama classes. The scenes, all of which are student produced, directed, and acted, touched on Poe’s classic short stories, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, “The Black Cat”, and “The Fall of the House of Usher” as well as his most memorable poem, “The Raven”. Students who participated in the production are enrolled in Lemberg’s Honors Actors Studio class. They include: Hannah Auld, Lauren Balchick, Isla Flint, Ethan Fox, Alan Grinberg, Ryan Javery, Niko Kasper, Brian Krugh, Dan Luther, Abbey Puderbaugh, Ava Rigelhaupt, Parker Schuppenhauer, Kenia Viezcas, Haley Wilson, and Natalie Wotring.
Performed in a chamber theatre style, the drama students were responsible for the adaptation of prose fiction for the stage. In this style of production, the narrator is retained as a character. When analyzing a piece of prose fiction for adaptation, the adapter must consider who the narrator is, where and when he or she is speaking (in the virtual present), to whom he or she is speaking, why he or she is speaking, and how he or she is speaking. Most events in prose fiction take place in the past with the narrator talking about them in some unspecified present time.
The forty-five minute production was performed for each of the classes held throughout the day, requiring the drama students to put on the play seven times throughout the day. Most challenging in the adaptation, according to Junior Brian Krugh, was adapting Poe’s language and memorizing the unusual word order. “Poe’s word arrangements was challenging,” Krugh, the son of Jeffery and Pamela Krugh, commented, “since he does not word his sentences in the usual way. His word choice and arrangement made it challenging to memorize and to divide lines among the actors.”