We are thrilled to present our adaptation of Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. We are adding multiple layers to the story as well an endowing it with elements of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Check out our pick in Willamette Week’s Fall Arts Guide!
Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw has fascinated us since we saw a wonderfully absurd version of it in NYC years ago. It’s the classic ghost story, without the ghosts being the most horrific part. It is a story about obsession or perhaps possession. Sean and I grew up watching classic horror films. We wanted to create something similar. Sean leaned towards the John Carpenter genre, but nothing about those stories we knew worked together.
Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining however, does. I was immediately drawn into all of the fabulous similarities between the two stories. The Shining lore is copious! I have spent hours sitting through documentaries and obscure online theories. The Shining is a great American horror story, where as James’ The Turn of the Screw is a great in classic literature.
We began by adapting Turn of the Screw. We then started injecting elements of The Shining into the story where they made sense. We weren’t attracted to the famous moments, but the subliminal stuff, the odd moments, the characters, and most importantly the building and sense of place. For our purposes the estate in The Turn is the Wiederum Estate (German for in turn or again). As Scatman Crothers states in The Shining, “Some places are like people, some shine and some don’t.”
We hope you enjoy our blending of stories, and if you would like a bit more, I’ve made a list of The Shining elements we used for you to geek out on. It’s a good idea to check out the movie soon, too. You might make some of your own subconscious connections.
FURTHER NOTES FROM OUR MOVEMENT DIRECTOR:
Ambiguity, crushing isolation, unending wars with the self, burning obsession, and possession are delicately wound together and then ratcheted tighter and tighter until at the climax of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, we’re left only with a single, inexplicable horrific event.
Greats have taken elements of James’ story on: Truman Capote co-wrote the screenplay for the 1960’s film The Innocents, Nicole Kidman created a luminous and fragile version of the governess-as-mother in The Others, and Stephen King’s The Shining became Kubrick’s cult classic film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.
If you’re fans of the horror genre as we are, look for elements of Mark Ryden, Yoshitomo Nara, or Emily Winfeild’s work as well as those from sources mentioned above: from the image of ethereal girls exhibiting ‘ko kawaii,’ to the tone of an actor’s voice, to a costume choice, the pattern in the wallpaper, a stabbing gesture or movement phrase, to the layering of song, sound, and text, or structural elements in the script, we aim to steal from the best. A list of specific elements taken from Kubrick’s The Shining is available elsewhere on the website.
We hope we pay respect to original and contemporary influences while birthing an entirely new breed of horror for you to enjoy. And we hope to leave you disquieted, wondering what horrors might lie in the twists and turns of your own heart, yet to be revealed.