Knock Three Times: Twists on Poe’s poems

A new original play at Pierce College premiered on Nov. 3.

Rebecca Dickson, Reporter

Pierce College Puyallup’s Fall 2016 play, Knock Three Times, premiered Nov. 3 in the Black Box Theatre. The original play, written by professor and director Sam Sloan, is a unique twist on the poems The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart, as well as the short story The Masque of Red Death, written by Edgar Allen Poe in the 19th century.

Each poem features different scenes where death takes place. In The Raven, Poe speaks about being haunted by a Raven, often used as a symbolism of death, after his loved one has left him. The Tell-Tale Heart features the narrator as a murderer who feels guilty because of their actions. The Masque of Red Death features a corpse that spreads the Red Death to rich party goers.

“We’ve been trying to do a few literary adaptations,” Sloan said. “In this production, we have students from all backgrounds.”

The performance is split into three sections where each play is featured. Student actors may play multiple roles. The cast consists of 16 students, which is the largest cast of actors Pierce has ever had.

The casting is diverse in age and experience. Some students have never performed before, while others have participated in more than 10 plays. Because of the diversity in experience and size of the cast, there were three rehearsal sessions. Some students who have multiple roles stay for multiple rehearsals. These rehearsals can last until 10 p.m. For Sloan and other actors who also have classes in the early morning, this can make for long days.

Regardless, all students auditioned for their roles in the play. Auditions consisted of a cold reading of the script.

“It wasn’t something that wasn’t expected,” Kaitlin Christensen, who plays the character of Death in The Raven, said. “I was a little nervous, but I thought it would be fun.”

The play is considered unique by actors within the production. Because the performance is something many students are unfamiliar with, it can be difficult to put together, Sloan said.

“It’s better than Halloween. You can watch it like five times and see something new,” Christiansen said.

Jasper Bailie has auditioned three times at Pierce and has received a role each time. This time, he plays Edgar Allen Poe in The Raven.

“It’s dualistic because I get to experience the full range of the negative human psyche from just complete and utter rage to absolute grief and despair,” Bailie said. “It ain’t Fiddler on the Roof.

Although each original piece is featured in omnipresent first person, Sloan has adapted each piece to be in third person, allowing for multiple actors to act out a continuous story.

“This whole show has great actors, and since this is an adaption of Edgar Allen Poe, it may be familiar (to fans of Poe),” Bell said.

Austin Hollenbeck said everyone will enjoy the play. Hollenbeck has been in 15 productions prior to this one.

“My age was single digits when I started,” Hollenbeck said. “I started in third grade.”

As he may want to be a paid actor in the future, he’s looking toward being in many productions. This is his first production at Pierce, and he’s excited to be involved.

“Sam and Nicole (the assistant director of Knock Three Times), they’re wonderful people and wonderful directors,” Hollenbeck said. “The amount of energy they bring to productions is unrivaled by any directors or producers (I’ve met).”

As with any production, there are many steps to take in the creation. In addition to initial casting of roles, actors must memorize lines, learn the physical movements for each line (known as blocking), creation of costumes and set, lighting, sound, and video as well as the sale of the performance.

In order to finish the immediate needs for the set, Sloan and Assistant Director (Check title) Nicole Nicholson stayed over a weekend with a severe storm warning to paint part of the set.

Sloan is looking forward to his production being performed.

“Part of the idea behind this is to have a chorus of ideas. (It will) be musical,” Sloan said.

Interested students will have more opportunities to participate in the drama department in the future, according to Sloan.

“We accept people from all levels of experience,” Sloan said.

According to Sloan, the drama department is relatively new; in it’s third year of existence, many students may be unaware of the opportunities it provides.

Every fall and spring, the drama department puts on one major production. This spring’s performance, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafkas will be directed by Joshua Potter, another drama professor at Pierce.

In winter quarter, a guest artist will come in and give an acting workshop which is open to all interested students.

The drama department also offers technical theatre and acting classes for students at Puyallup.

“Don’t be afraid to show up for a class or an audition,” Sloan said.

Sloan recommends students buy tickets ahead of time. For the fall production of Knock Three Times, students may buy tickets for $2 each. Community members can buy tickets for $3 each.

“It’s definitely Poe as you’ve never heard before- but it’s a Poe you’ll never forget,” Sloan said.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Rebecca Dickson

Knock Three Times: Twists on Poe’s poems

by Rebecca Dickson time to read: 3 min