Going Through A Stage
Ahead of the debut of his odd but intriguing horror/comedy/musical stage production, we caught up with writer, director and producer, Levon J Polinelli, to talk about shapeshifting and sceneshifting.
“Werewolf Priest: The Lamentable Ballad Of Father Hank Grimby,” Polinelli explains. “Tells the tale of the town of Huntersville, a small hamlet that’s fallen on hard times. The only thing keeping them going is their young priest, Hank Grimby. Hank, however, is in a bit of a pickle. He’s torn between his vows to god and he’s fallen in love with the mayor’s daughter, who’s engaged to be married to an explorer. So, a bit of a problem. And then, of course, he’s also recently become a werewolf.”
Well, that seems complicated enough. In truth, we don’t see much horror and gore on the stage these days, although there’s a strong tradition of it running through the history of theatre, with Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and the French Grand Guignol coming immediately to mind. “I was really inspired by Sweeney Todd and wanted to just do a big, crazy musical – something bloody as all hell. I went on a bit of a Wikipedia journey and ended up finding this 400 year old folk tale about a werewolf priest – I think it was from Eastern Europe or somewhere. And I just thought, ‘That’s fantastic! That’s it!’ So yeah, it’s kind of been a bit of a journey coming from that. It’s been a film at points, but the opportunity came up to do it on stage and I thought why not?”
Of course, there are certain practical problems that are inherent in mounting a live show about shapeshifting supernatural serial killers. “Obviously the big challenge in stage work is werewolves and the things they kill – the villagers of the town. We’ve got some really cool werewolves and some really cool effects of people being ripped apart and things like that.
“We have come up with a quite a few interesting and unique ways to pull it all off. We’re going for some stylistic parts and in other parts it is just a werewolf on stage tearing people apart. I don’t think you can have a play called werewolf priest and not have that. I think people would feel cheated.”
Werewolf Priest: The Lamentable Ballad Of Father Hank Grimby plays at The Blue Room Theatre until Saturday, June 7. Go to blueroom.org.au for tickets and session times.