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Dramatised reading is a horror show.

" Let's talk, you and I; let's talk about fear." As the omniscient narrator introduced Stephen King and his legendary horror tradition, the audience at the American Centre gripped the sides of their chairs. The occasion was Night Shift , a dramatic reading of two of King's short stories, produced by SLAP ( Sounds like a Plan) Enterprise and theatre group Greasepaint, and directed by actor and acclaimed theatre director Sohaila Kapur.

The evening started with The Ledge , which was first published in the 1976 issue of The Penthouse and later anthologised in Night Shift, King's first collection. S. Satish and Bobby Desai took over the roles of Cressner and Norris and the bone chilling short story, suffused with King's characteristic innate ironic humour, unravelled on stage. Even though the actors were only seated and read out from the scripts, but the use of technology guaranteed an exciting visual and aural experience.

As the scenes were read out, the white screen in the background filled with the projections of film stills to go along with it.

The second short story: The Mangler was evidently the crowd favourite, with a theme and story line more grisly than the first. The actors from the first reading were joined by Kapur and actor Shikha Pahwa.

This story of ' death by misadventure' kept the audiences on edge as blood- curdling screams reverberated in the darkened hall. The second performance was incorporated with a spookier stage setting with a wreath and candles positioned in classic horror tradition.

Kapur was happy with the response her experiment met with -- she considered the dramatised reading " a fairly unexplored dramatic technique". And judging by the way the audiences were cowering, they concurred.

-- Snigdha Ahuja

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jul 13, 2010
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