Eric Woolfe is a magician, actor, writer, comedian, puppeteer, and is the Artistic Director of Eldritch Theatre. Currently in residence at the Red Sandcastle theatre, Eldritch provides all kids of spooky, fun entertainment. I was so happy that he agreed to answer some questions I had for him in advance of his remount of Two Weird Tales.

Can you tell me about when you started to learn magic? What is your favourite trick?

I have always been interested in magic. And like most weird kids, I had a magic set when I was little, full of cheap plastic trick with obvious methods that I performed poorly and for the most part, incorrectly.

And then, in the early 2000s, I played Tom in a production of The Glass Menagerie, and I thought it would make sense if Tom knew cigarette tricks, both to show off for the Gentleman Caller, and because it’s a memory play, his endless cigarettes should be able to appear and disappear as he thinks about them. So, that started an informal study in slight of hand that got me excited about how magic as an art form can be used in story telling.

And then, around 2006, when my second son was born, it occurred to me that you could use magic within the narrative of a play, the way songs are used in a musical: to advance the narrative, to illuminate a character point, or to set mood and tone. And at that point the study became in depth and all consuming. Because I didn’t realize until I was too far into it to escape that it was a little like saying, “I’m 45 years old, and I am gunna become a prima ballerina.”

Your company, Eldritch Theatre, has a real affinity for all this spooky! When did your love of the horror genre start?

I’ve always loved horror. Since I was three and saw Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein on the Sir Graves Ghastly Show. And as one of the few theatre companies that focus on it, I think we are filling a dire need. A hundred years ago and more, horror elements could be found in almost everywhere. And as we moved into the 20th century genres became more isolated. But, uncanny, spooky, fantastical stories can resonate universally the way that real world drama can’t. A play about Cronus eating his children is about abusive fathers, Freudian fears, the politics of the oppressed, class warfare, the difficulty of society to accept change, and any number of other things because it resonates on an obviously archetypical level… Whereas usually, a play about an abuse father is just about an abusive father.

What inspired you to choose these two stories in particular for “Two Weird Tales”?

Well, the idea to do the Metamorphosis came about while chatting online with Lindsay Anne Black, who was one of my favourite all time designers, but had to retire from show business when her Multiple Chemical Sensitivity made it impossible for her to work. We wanted to come up with a project that could be put together remotely. Something she could design in the safety of her home, and that I could build in mine, with communication occurring digitally… Now this was before Covid, so the idea seemed somewhat revolutionary then. The Metamorphosis seemed like the perfect thing to adapt, because Gregor’s isolation, and his struggles with a body he no longer recognised or could control seemed like a fitting metaphor for Lindsay’s illness.

And Mountains of Madness was a project that Eldritch’s resident designer, Mel McNeal and I came up with during the first Covid lockdowns… we thought it would be fun to create a project with a story that was as large and epic as possible, but on a scale that was miniscule, with the thinking that, as Covid restrictions lifted, maybe we’d be playing to tiny audiences of one or two. Or maybe big audiences, but seated very far apart… We had no idea what the world would be. So, Mountains was created to play for any eventuality.

And then, once Covid restrictions ended, both plays were ready at the same time. So, we made it a double bill.

In the process of making a show like “Two Weird Tales” which usually comes first: the magic, the story, or the puppets?

I can go either way. Sometimes I’ll really love a trick, and invent a whole play to go around it. Sometimes, the play comes first and the magic bits are the very last things to squeeze it… I think musicals work that way too. Sometimes the chicken leads the charge. Sometimes the egg. Sometimes you piece it all together out of pieces of shells and scrambled yoke.

Is there another well-known work you’d like to dramatize in the future?

We are working on an Eldritch Theatre adaptation of MacBeth right now. And several other thing… But they’re all secret.

I’m very grateful to Eric for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. You can win two free tickets to Opening Night (April 20th) of Two Weird Tales via my Instagram! If you’d like more info or tickets for another date, check out:


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