Friday, 14 March 2008

WEIRD TALES OF SIN AND ECSTASY: ARTHUR MACHEN IN JAZZ AGE CHICAGO

As part of the publicity for Wildclaw's production of The Great God Pan I wrote an essay exploring the connection between Machen, Chicago and the Weird Tales writers like Lovecraft, and RE Howard. It pays tribute to the Chicago based writer Vincent Starrett, a key figure in the Machen revival of the twenties in America as well as to Ben Hecht, the Oscar winning screenwriter of many Hollywood classsics, like Hitchcock's Spellbound and Notorious, as well as FrontPage/His Girl Friday, Gone With the Wind, The Thing from Another World, Some Like It Hot, another Chicago based Machen admirer.

WEIRD TALES OF SIN AND ECSTASY: ARTHUR MACHEN IN JAZZ AGE CHICAGO


WildClaw's drama got great reviews you can read them on their site. Here is a sample. "Playwright Charley Sherman is still remembered in Chicago for his award-winning page-to-stage adaptations of contemporary creep-lit authors, and his rendition of this period thriller is laudable for its roster of elements associated with the genre: esoteric cult-worship, gloomy abandoned houses, gruesome unnatural deaths, masquerade balls attended by licentious guests, strolls through the fleshpots of fin-de-si├Ęcle London, innocent virgins strapped to surgical tables, callow youths driven to ruin by femmes extremely-fatales (reflecting the gilded age's fear and fascination with the notion of uninhibited sexuality—especially in women) and, of course, gallons of lovingly-replicated gore."

This video shows some of the dramatic effects from the production:



Saturday, 8 March 2008

Clive Barker on Arthur Machen - "Yes, this man redefines genres as far as I’m concerned."

Like many of the greats of horror and fantasy literature have before him Barker has gone on record in an interview to express his admiration for the work of Arthur Machen as part of the publicity for the Chicago production of Pan. Nice to see the interview took place the day after Machen's birthday.

CHARLIE: So what are your thoughts on Arthur Machen and The Great God Pan?

CLIVE: Well, this is a huge subject and we haven’t time, but there are a lot of things to be said. First thing is, Arthur Machen is wholly neglected in this country and I’m afraid in England, too. He is, to my mind, easily as important as Lovecraft. He’s certainly a better writer, no question, and infinitely subtler in his effects. Infinitely more humane in his philosophies and completely untouched by the anti-Semitism and misogyny, which to my mind is so strong in Lovecraft that it makes the work odious....



CLIVE: Yes, this man redefines genres as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never had a taste for Lovecraft. Never understood why anybody would have a taste for Lovecraft. I recommend to you, for instance, a little story not more than three pages long called, I think, An Incident on High Holborn. That’s a street in London.
H-o-l-b-o-r-n.

CHARLIE: Okay.

CLIVE: It’s three, four pages long and it is so charged with magic and, as they say, a sort of documentary reality. It’s like nothing in English fantasy. Like nothing in English fiction. Extraordinary stuff.

You can read the full interview here where he discusses The Angels of Mons saga.


Barker has mentioned his longstanding admiration for Machen before in interviews and articles.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Friends at Stratford

This year the Friends AGM was in Stratford-on-Avon was held as usual as close as possible to Machen's birthday on March 3rd. Machen visited and acted here with the Bensonian company of actors in the early 1900s. We used the haunted 17th century Mecure Shakespeare Hotel as venue for the AGM it was a favourite drinking den of Machen and was about 50m away from the site of Shakespeare's final home. Machen loved Stratford and Shakespeare so it was an excellent choice. Attended by Machen's elderly daughter Janet the patron of the society, it was an enjoyable weekend with much drink and fine talk from the assembled company featuring as well a dramatic performance which recreated Machen's final moments on the stage. This year by lucky chance the AGM fell on St David's Day too.

The venue for next years AGM is sinister Whitby. Why not join the The Friends of Arthur Machen and come along?