Poe’s Tales of Terror, Performed in Fresno, Part of Big Read

Oct 23, 2010 | Arts & Entertainment, Books & Tales, Lorie Lewis Ham, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Lorie Lewis Ham

This year’s Fresno County Library Big Read has chosen the works of Edgar Allan Poe. As a part of their many events this year they are presenting a stage version of several of his stories and poems adapted by Terrance McArthur, called Poe’s Tales of Terror, beginning this weekend at the Sanctuary Theater, 2336 Calveras Street in Fresno.

The stories/poems that are in this show are “The Black Cat,” “Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather,” “The Oval Portrait,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Mysterious case of M. Valdemar,” “The Tell Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” and “The Cask of Amantillado.” Running time is one hour and 45 minutes.

Poe’s Tales of Terror has an eight-person cast of four men and four women. The cast consists of Ashley Hyatt, Jessi Knotts, Dianne Englen, Kayla Wyllie, Conrade Arredondo, Brian Pucheu, Jon Hogan, and Chris Harrelson. S. Eric Day is directing the Big Read play for the third time. In past years, he directed Tom Sawyer and Fahrenheit 451 for them. Day has been directing for 15 years and is well known in the Fresno theatre community. “This year we are at the EOC Sanctuary Stage and working with some of the youth programs giving them paid internships to work as stage hands.”

Chris Harrelson as Poe

This production is brought to the public by California Public Theater and the Fresno County Public Free Library through a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts Big Read project. Poe’s Tales of Terror opened October 22. The remaining performances are October 23, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. and October 31 at 2 p.m. Pick up free tickets at Library Branches, seating is limited.

For more information about other Big Read events you can go to their website.

I had the privilege of seeing this show on opening night and it makes for a great scary, Halloween time of year event. It was quite creepy, which of course Poe is supposed to be, and the comments from “Poe” in between stories were interesting and often added a bit of levity to an otherwise dark evening. Edgar Allan Poe is the father of the detective mystery fiction genre and never fails to cause a chill to run down your spine with his stories and poetry.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds.


  1. Just to set the record straight the photo’s were taken by Jill Bedford. A professional photographer who has graciously donated her time to the Big Read project

  2. Other directors for this production include Nikki Tempesta, Jon Hogan, and Sam Arredondo.

    • Thanks so much for the extra info! It was a fun show!

  3. Poe has remained one of my all time favorite authors since I was introduced to him in 6th grade. I can still remember my teacher reading “The Cask of Amantillado” and our entire class sitting spellbound while listening. Then there were those high school movie dates in the early 60s (drive-in movies, $5 carload) where we watched Vincent Price (the Versatile Villain) and his Poe adaptations of “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The Raven” and “The Masque of the Red Death”. I get chills just thinking about it.

  4. Thank you, Lori, for the kind words about the play. It was a challenge to adapt Poe and his work for the stage. Naturally, I used some of the popular stories and poems, like The Tell-Tale Heart, A Cask of Amontillado, and The Raven, but it was fun to include some stories that were less-known, like The Oval Portrait and The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether. I enjoyed watching it, since the actors and directors did so much to bring it all to life.



  1. California Public Theater: Producing Works That Are Socially & Educationally Responsible | Kings River Life Magazine - [...] In Poe’s Tales of Terror, you had to make a body turn to goo onstage. In Call of the…

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