‘There’s something exciting about being scared to death!’ – Writer Noel Anderson
As a young kid I loved Hammer Horror productions, films like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Nanny with Bette Davis. When I first started to think about a ghost story I could adapt for the stage, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James immediately came mind. A Gothic tale of child possession, set in England in the late 1890’s. Of course, the much loved novella has seen many adaptations over the years on stage and in film, including director Jack Clayton’s The Innocents with Deborah Kerr.
So, what makes my re-imagining of this well known ghost story different? To be honest it took a lot of late nights of writing and rewriting to figure that out. All I knew as I sat down to adapt The Turn of the Screw was I wanted scare the bejesus out of audience and/or the reader!
About the Adaptation
The first thing I did was kill off (write out) the men. In my adaption of The Turn of the Screw, now called Ghost Story, the two ladies, Miss (governess to two angelic children) and Mrs Grose (obedient servant) acknowledge the minor characters (Miss Jessel and Peter Quint) but they are never seen on stage. In my ghost story the women also play the possessed children, Miles and Flora. This is my point of difference over other adaptions of The Turn of the Screw. Ghost Story is told from perspective of the two repressed women, in particular the governess, a young woman prone to extreme sexual fantasies.
A young minister’s daughter (Miss) believes the children in her charge (Miles and Flora) are possessed by two ghostly horrors; previous servants who worked at Bly (isolated country mansion) who both died in mysterious circumstances. Miss with the aid of servant Mrs Grose, set out to rescue the children from the clutches of these two devils, in an effort to save the children’s souls from burning in hell.
The Coronavirus and best laid plans!
I had planned to produce Ghost Story for Melbourne Fringe 2020 but the world changed unexpectedly, thanks to the coronavirus epidemic. Millions of people went into self-isolation, cities in lockdown and theatres closed. Ghost Story would have to wait to find an audience…or would it?
What I decided to do was make my adaption of Henry James’s classic tale of horror available to purchase online at a modest price. If you love horror stories, it’s a good read, even if you’ve never read a play before! Note: An extract of Ghost Story is available online to read for free.
Sweet dreams 🩸Noel Anderson 😊