Poe plays well on Halloween

The long lost Lenore played by Bridget Wallace visits the now mad narrator, played by Chris Hall, as a ghostly specter at the end of "The Raven" (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

The long lost Lenore played by Bridget Wallace visits the now mad narrator, played by Chris Hall, as a ghostly specter at the end of “The Raven” (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — A spooky double-feature was served up Saturday night at the Old State House featuring a live interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and the mock “The Trial of the Tell Tale Heart.”

The performances, organized by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, were the first of their kind for the organization which regularly hosts weekend educational programs.

“This is the first time Halloween has fallen on a Saturday since I’ve worked here so it was a great opportunity to do something Edgar Allen Poe related,” said Chris Hall, co-author of “The Trial of The Tell Tale Heart.”

The narrator, played by Chris Hall of Dover, begins the poem as "weak and weary," and later becomes regretful and grief-stricken, before passing into a frenzy and, finally, madness. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

The narrator, played by Chris Hall of Dover, begins the poem as “weak and weary,” and later becomes regretful and grief-stricken, before passing into a frenzy and, finally, madness. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Cultural Affairs almost exclusively focuses on Delaware-based history and historical figures but although not a Delawarean, Poe was integrated into the program because during his life he gave lectures on poetry at what would become the University of Delaware and was a frequenter of St. Patrick’s Tavern in Newark, now known as Deer Park Tavern.

Saturday’s interpretation of “The Raven” featured Mr. Hall reciting the poem in a dramatized way.

“We took a little artistic liberty with it and we’re hoping people get to see Mr. Poe in a different light,” said Nina Todd, historical site supervisor of the Old State House.

Mr. Hall and his co-worker Courtney Lynahan started writing “Tell Tale” about six weeks ago, creating a 20-minute long play set in the 1840s and incorporating four other historical reenactors from Cultural Affairs and First State Heritage Park into the performance.

Historical interpreter Chris Hall of Dover portrays Edgar Allan Poe's distraught lover plagued by a raven's mysterious visit from his narrative poem "The Raven" which finds the man slowly falling into madness over the lost love of his dear Lenore played by Bridget Wallace. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Historical interpreter Chris Hall of Dover portrays Edgar Allan Poe’s distraught lover plagued by a raven’s mysterious visit from his narrative poem “The Raven” which finds the man slowly falling into madness over the lost love of his dear Lenore played by Bridget Wallace. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Rehearsals began about two weeks ago so the cast could be prepared for two shows Saturday night when they performed in full period-attire.

The play focused on Charles Webster and a case regarding the murder of his landlord. The performance was interactive, bringing in members of the audience to testify for and against Mr. Webster.

During several interludes, Mr. Webster, played by Mr. Hall, described to the audience what his true actions had been, letting them in on a story the lawyers and judge didn’t know.

Mr. Webster’s descriptive story left some haunting images in the minds of some of the audience members, a perfect fit for a play presented on the scariest night of the year.

From left: Historical interpreters Bridget Wallace, Courtney Lynahan, Chris Hall, Tom Welch, Gavin Malone and Eric Hamilton starred in Halloween evening's production of "The Tell Tale Heart" and "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe in 1845. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

From left: Historical interpreters Bridget Wallace, Courtney Lynahan, Chris Hall, Tom Welch, Gavin Malone and Eric Hamilton starred in Halloween evening’s production of “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe in 1845. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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