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Machen on the Stage


Arthur Machen (born Arthur Llewellyn Jones) has become Agincourt’s new cause célèbre — not that he’ll ever replace Frederick Rolfe, a.k.a., Baron Corvo; there’s room in our community for two esteemed writers held in high regard. Coincidentally, they were born just three years (1860 vs 1863) and 135 miles apart, though outside the British Isles you could add a zero to represent the likely cultural distance between them. I’ve bought a number of Machen books in original editions and have begun to understand why his reputation is deserved: he is, indeed, a master of supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction.

And then I wondered if any Machen works had been adapted for the stage. These seem exactly the sorts of story-line that would have attracted Rennie Gleason or, especially, Seamus Tierney. Had others seen their potential? Google provided an interesting answer: in 1917, during some of the worst of WWI, a Machen short story “The Terror” was adapted as a radio drama. You can listen to a 1981 reenactment on youtube.

What this means for Agincourt is anybody’s guess. I’m no playwright.


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