We Need More Horror In Theatre

Anthony J. Piccione

In past columns, I’ve written about how there is a lack of variety of different plays that are produced each year in professional theatre. I’ve tried to put emphasis on how originality in theatre is something that is lacking, at least in Broadway. In doing so, I have continued to hope that maybe this would fuel a larger discussion in the theatre community about this issue, and possibly to inspire people to come up with potential solutions.

One way to try and fix this problem might be to produce more new plays that fit into genres that don’t often get chosen by producers in the professional theatre industry. In the film industry, there happens to be a wide variety of popular genres to choose from, and one of the most popular that there is just so happens to be horror. Especially during this time of year, nothing sells more than a good scary movie.

If you ask me, I think we could use a lot more shows that frighten an audience just as much as a horror movie could.

I recognize that the horror genre isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. However, the truth is that the musical genre isn’t necessarily for all audience members, as well. Yet if the Tony awards this past summer are any indication, the theatre industry isn’t exactly in short supply of musicals that are being produced, to say the least. So if the goal is to both introduce new shows, and to also potentially expand the audience that is attending shows, it might not be such a bad idea to produce some shows from genres that are radically different from that of the musical. One example of such a genre would be horror.

Indeed, many audience members like to go to see live performance with the intension of watching suspenseful stories that keep them on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. In movie theaters, horror films are often successfully at doing that to their audiences. I see no reason why stories similar to those in horror films can’t be written for the stage, nor do I see why such shows would be any less successful at doing that to theatergoers than such films are to moviegoers.

Also, keep in mind that when I am referring to horror, I was referring to a wide variety of different subcategories of horror that we could hypothetically see on Broadway. Whether we are talking about work that is inspired by legendary writers such as Stephen King or Edgar Allen Poe or by iconic film franchises from A Nightmare on Elm Street to Final Destination, there is a wide variety of potential horror stories out there that – with the help of some stunning costumes and visual effects – could lead to the birth of a theatrical experience unlike any other that you can see on Broadway today.

So tonight, I say to all my fellow theatergoers – whether you plan on dressing up or not, going to some kind of party or giving out candy to kids – be sure to spend time as you are doing that thinking about how all the spooky things that are popular during this time of year could be popular in theatre. Scary stories – whether they are dealing with psychopaths, the supernatural, or possibly both – almost seem like a natural fit for an industry that could use more variety and originality. I hope that over the years, maybe we’ll get to see more world premieres for such shows throughout the theatre community.

On that note: Have a happy Halloween!

This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Student, playwright, actor, poet and blogger currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Anthony and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook(www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione).

Photo: Molly Ranson in the title role of the musical “Carrie.” SARA KRULWICH / THE NEW YORK TIMES