Cotuit Center for the Arts presents the world premiere of Jim Dalglish’s new play, “Dark Tales Told on a Cold Autumn Eve,” October 11 to 28 in the Black Box Theater. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2 PM.
Every autumn during a full moon, Sam lights a fire in the hearth of his old, abandoned tavern deep in the woods of Great Island. It’s a signal for the lost and forgotten souls of Cape Cod to emerge from the shadows to share their tales.
“Dark Tales Told on a Cold Autumn Eve” is a collection of scary, original stories—mysterious and haunting—of the supernatural world of Cape Cod. Written by the award-winning author of “Lines in the Sand,” “Unsafe,” and “Bark Park,” all of which were presented at Cotuit Center for the Arts, the show is a perfect Halloween outing for adults with a taste for the macabre.
“I wanted to create new stories about Cape Cod, accompanied by fresh takes on the legends of Old Cape Cod,” said Dalglish. “I wanted to illuminate the fascinating and unique history of the place in a way that would make the audience feel they were being taken back in time. Most of all, I wanted to show how the history of the Cape informs its present.”
In writing the stories, Dalglish explored a variety of story types: legends, myths, tall tales, allegory, contemporary horror, and even political commentary disguised as Grand Guignol. The stories feature the Cape’s whaling history, the Pilgrims, mooncussers, modernistic beach houses, witches, pirates, and politicos and many familiar Cape locations, such as Provincetown Harbor, Horseleech Pond, Samuel Smith’s Tavern, the Barnstable Jail, White Cedar Swamp, the Three Sisters Lights, the Nauset Moors, the Chatham Bars Inn, and “a certain family compound in Hyannis.”
“I became a little obsessed with the Scottish Selkie myths and I wanted to include them in the mix, too,” said Dalglish. He spent months researching Cape Cod history, its ghost stories, legends, and aspects of its culture that have been lost to time. “I also drew on my years of living on the Cape and my feelings about that makes this spit of sand so special,” he said.
Dalglish was inspired by listening to recorded works of Edgar Allen Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Saki, and Hawthorne, old radio shows, and some contemporary Irish and British ghost story podcasts. “It was important to me to figure out the ins and outs of presenting a traditional prose story narrative in a theatrical setting, and these all helped immensely,” he said. He was also inspired by the works of Conor McPherson, particularly his plays “The Weir” and “Shining City.”
“My aim is to frighten, shock, educate, provoke and titillate the audience. I am hoping to take them on a five-ticket rollercoaster ride that they won’t soon forget,” said Dalglish.
Tickets are $20, $15 for members. Cotuit Center for the Arts is at 4404 Route 28 in Cotuit. For more information, visit artsonthecape.org or call 508-428-0669.
# # #
“Dark Tales Told on a Cold Autumn Eve,” a play by Jim Dalglish
Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Route 28, Cotuit
October 11 to 28, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM; Sunday at 2 PM
$20, $15 for members