The Library

Here we will present press and any essays on the practical or theoretical considerations and implications of creating and producing live horror performance.

Explain Yourself Traumaturgy Productions!

Traumaturgy productions is a theatrical enterprise dedicated to experimenting with and advocating for the creation of live horror performance. The team was formed as a response to a simple question, how can horror be effective on the stage today? The historical prevalence of supernatural, paranormal, terrifying theatricals suggested that theater, as a form, was a suitable vessel for the awe and gory detritus of the horrific. Yet, the lack of live horror productions now suggested some deficit in the genre or doubt about its efficacy in theatrical form.  Perhaps we had simply lost interest in the abyss altogether. The rationality of our times had turned our superstitions petty, and we had left behind the fears that had resided there for so long. But then the existence of an endless stream of diverse and popular horror films seemed to dispel that line of reasoning outright; the desire to delve into our darkest, least explainable inclinations through the paranormal was greater than ever. Something else was causing the dearth in live horror productions if the form was at least historically suitable, and interest in the material was widespread. The culprit then upon which we settled was a widespread lack of practical knowledge, the know-how to efficiently and effectively employ a large vocabulary of effects and to evoke from the stage phenomenal unease.

Even while the number of theatrical productions falling into what we might broadly define as horror grows in some arenas--with prominent productions of properties such as Let The Right One In and The Exorcist heralding some popular interest--the genre remains sparsely represented across all levels of production, more so when compared to film or television. This paucity of productions predictably produces a commensurate lack of information on the efficacy of design choices, dramatic writing and formatting, story structures and characters, and stage technologies in telling horror stories and scaring modern audiences.

Traumaturgy Productions has set out, with the theoretical writings and research of Jolene Noelle as our gauge, to test a wide range of horror tropes and story telling devices in many different theatrical arrangements, from the proscenium stage with its narratives imparted directly to the immersive dispersed narrative of environmental theater, in order to answer those questions and more: What is horrifying regardless of the medium? What works on screen but does not on stage? What might work on stage that cannot or will not work on screen? How can you do any of this on the types of budgets theater producers generally have? And then how do you develop a community of horror practitioners where sharing such practical information might have its greatest effect on the quantity and quality of horror theater?

To learn more about how we define horror theater--beyond the vague sense that it be scary and might include any number of monsters, ghosts, or demons--and its rich if little known history follow the link to Noelle's thesis Horror Theatre: Investing In The Aesthetics of Horror as a Theatrical Genre.

Stephen Christensen