Writer of Fetch for our Halloween Tales production, Duncan Gates, answers our (very challenging) questions.
What gave you the idea to write Fetch?
A segment on a BBC late-90s midweek evening show called ‘Mysteries with Carol Vorderman’, where a security guard reported having met himself at night . It had no other incident or closure and I’ve always wondered why anyone would make that up. That and a story in late-80s kids TV series Dramarama called ‘Back to Front’, where a kid gets a magic mirror and horror ensues…
Besides Fetch, what’s the piece you’ve written that you’re most proud of?
Right now it’s probably a Chekhovian sci-fi called Blue Dot – it made an audience member gasp at Martian racism.
Why did you decide to pick the M.R. James story (The Wailing Well) that you’re reading for Halloween Tales?
It’s got a terrific range of tone, starting with Kenneth Grahame bucolic japes and ending on a Stephen King level of discomfort. It was also written for an actual scout group about the place where they used to camp – know your audience!
What’s the best play/show/concert you’ve ever been to?
It’s still Unlimited Theatre’s 2002 show ‘Neutrino’, because that actually changed my life artistically.
What’s your favourite horror movie?
Ring – 85 minutes of baffling unease, one massive long-form scare. Job done.
What scares you silly?
I have odd recurring mental images of being hit by vehicles at high speed. It’s either happened to me in a previous life or it will happen in the future. I don’t know which. That scares me. That and ‘Back to Front’.
Have you ever had a spooky experience?
I’ve heard a radio turn itself on; had something incorporeal fly through my head into a wall; been woken up by a whistling noise that made me feel sick and then stopped; had something touch my hand in the Edinburgh caverns. So yes, a few.
You’re going to a Halloween Party, what are you dressing up as?
I have previously gone to a Hallowe’en party dressed as the desert.
Not a lot of people know that…
An ancestor of mine was a champion penny-farthing-racer.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
What really grinds your gears?
People making art about things they aren’t interested in.
Come to see Fetch 30th and31st Oct and 1st Nov and see Duncan read ‘The Wailing Well’ on ACTUAL HALLOWEEN. Tickets available now.
If you’re stuck for ideas of what to do with yourself this Halloween, Blackshaw has two outstanding suggestions to help you out.
First, come to see our production Halloween Tales on the 30th, 31st October and 1st November. Get your tickets now!
Then, once you’ve been to see Halloween Tales, and scared yourself silly, have a super spooky movie marathon with these TERRIFYING suggestions from our cast and crew.
1) Ellie Pitkin, Director of Halloween Tales, picks: Insidious
Most terrifying moment: All the stuff with the baby monitor
Why it’s her favourite: Ellie says, “It’s full of classic jump moments as well as an actual plot – plus it has all my favourite horror story things: ghosts, children, possession and ghost hunters.”
2) Duncan Gates, writer of Fetch, picks: The Ring
Most terrifying moment: The entire last ten minutes
Why it’s his favourite: It’s lo-fi, downbeat, oddly un-demonstrative, with a terrific ebbing undercurrent of ‘OH GOD WHAT IS THIS EVEN ALL ABOUT’, which lasts through the ENTIRE film and makes the real world seem even more terrifying afterwards
Most terrifying moment: Ripley, unarmed and in her underwear, realising she’s not alone on the shuttle.
Why it’s his favourite: It’s a classic haunted house story … IN SPACE. And what CAN’T be improved by adding “IN SPACE”?
4) Bethany Arnold, Blackshaw’s Events Manager for the Howling Halloween Party, picks: Sleepy Hollow
Most terrifying moment: Aside from the fact that Bethany’s mum showed her this film at the tender age of 7, when the little boy is under the floorboards and his mums head rolls on the floor and he can see it looking at him, and then he’s trying to stay silent but the horseman realises he’s hiding and starts hacking at the floor. (I think we can all agree, this bit’s horrifying).
Why it’s her favourite: Although it’s horrible (and scarred her for life), Johnny Depp is awesome.
5) Rosie Marsh, actor playing the part of Ally in Fetch, picks: Dumbo
Most terrifying moment: When Dumbo gets drunk and all the clowns go all pink and psychedelic and start floating around him laughing. Rosie knows that Dumbo isn’t strictly speaking a ‘scary movie’ but she makes a good point
Why she really doesn’t like it: Rosie says, “how is that a kids film?!? It’s terrifying, I thought he’d never escape from them! Couldn’t sleep for weeks. I now hate clowns and floating pink things.”
6) Nicole Locke, Blackshaw’s Administrator, picks: Fright Night (not the David Tenant re-make)
Most terrifying moment: When Jerry is hiding in Charley’s room, and then jumps out to threaten him
Why it’s her favourite: The marvellous 80’s special effects, particularly towards the end when a fake bat swings across the room.
7) Alex Yaghma, actor playing the part of Col in Fetch, picks: 28 Days Later
Most terrifying moment: When they are being chased up a tower block staircase by rage infected zombies
Why it’s his favourite: Alex says, “something about being chased and hunted really freaks me.”
8) Siobhan Whelan, Blackshaw’s Publicity, Press and Marketing Manager, picks: The Blair Witch Project
Most terrifying moment: ALL. THE. GIGGLING. CHILDREN.
Why it’s her favourite: Siobhan says, “despite it being a bit over now, it still absolute scares the pants off me. If I see piles of sticks anywhere, I assume death is imminent.”
9) Bryony Tebbutt, actor playing the part of Vic in Fetch, picks: Saw
Most terrifying moment: *Spoiler Alert* When the guy saws off his foot, and the “dead” guy wakes up.
Why it’s her favourite: Bryony says, “When Saw first came out it was a great original idea, and the story captured me, then at the climax of the film, when this happened, was so shocking and heartbreaking it has always stuck with me.”
10) Vikki Weston, Blackshaw’s Strategy and Planning Manager, picks: The Shining
Most terrifying moment: The Grady Twins. Always.
Why it’s her favourite: Besides the incredible soundtrack, what’s most brilliant about The Shining is that it’s really about a normal bloke going completely insane. Which is totally chilling.
So, whether we’ve inspired you to movie marathon your way through Halloween or not, do yourself a favour and get a ticket for Halloween Tales now!
‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’ – Ernest Hemingway
At first, just a sentence. At closer inspection, deeply sad. Think on it more, and you can create an entire story around those words. All from one sentence; just six words. This phenomenon is known as ‘flash’ or ‘micro’ fiction.
Traditionally stories composed of less than 300 words, flash fiction has become even more compact for Twitter, with many writers challenging themselves to compose stories within the 140 character count.
Sometimes the greatest horror is that left unseen, so we wondered if that left unsaid could send chills up the spine. With some research we were pleased to see that the internet already had this covered! Ghoulish stories of two sentences are being written across the world – see some of the best here.
As you can see from these examples, and from Hemingway’s tragic sentence above, the best micro-stories work by letting the reader fill in the gaps. And so, with Halloween Tales on the horizon, we wondered if you could freak us all out a bit with your own efforts by composing your very own micro-horror-story and sharing it with us on Twitter and Facebook – we’ll share and retweet the best efforts!
And in the spirit of participation, I’m willing to embarrass myself with my own poor effort:
She noticed his reflection in the mirror behind her and smiled. Then she came to her senses and remembered why he couldn’t be there.
We’re all looking forward to reading your efforts!
‘You think it’s all me and it’s not. It’s not always me.’
It starts as a normal night-shift – and then you start to see double…
We’re thrilled to present Duncan Gates’ new play, Fetch, as part of ‘Halloween Tales’, a spooky 3-day theatre event, in which Fetch will headline each night, supported by a different creepy, candlelit, armchair reading of a classic horror story.
If you’re interested in an acting role for the project, great!
We’re looking for:
1 male role, age 25-35
2 females, age 25-35
Thurs 30th Oct, 7.30pm
Fri 31st Oct, 7.30pm
Sat 1st Nov, 7.30pm
Show venue (also venue for auditions/reading/rehearsals): The Selkirk, Tooting
Tickets will be available sooooooooon *spooky voice*.