London Horror Festival 2021
Nightmares is a horror musical that tells the story of a man, plagued with nightmares and visions who wakes up with no memory of who he is or what he has done…And what is going on with that corpse in the cellar? You are about to enter his nightmarish world, where nothing is as it seems, building to an absolutely insane third act. Nightmares are exactly that, a nightmare…
Hi Joseph thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
Haha, Strange times indeed. Well, no rest for the wicked as they say. I’ve been quite lucky in the fact that I’ve been able to adapt and continue to create new work without even being able to set foot in a theatre for the last 18 months.
Has this time provided you with any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
Well, since I couldn’t use any theatres or performance spaces for the last 18 months (like I said) I decided that it was time to turn my hand to something I’d been considering for quite some time: Filmmaking. I quickly realised that I could write and put together something quite quickly and to date, I’ve made 5 feature films and two short movies.
What does it mean to you to be bringing your new show Nightmares to the London Horror Festival 2021, are there be any nerves ahead of your run?
It really is everything to me. I’ve been a horror fanatic since the age of 4...That’s right, 4 and I decided that when I started to do my own shows that they would mostly be horror based so bringing one of my shows to LHF really is a dream come true. It will be the first time I’ll have a show in London...And live-streamed...And with the press. It’s exciting but at the same time scary. This might be the first of my shows to get all this exposure but I’m sure it will go down well...I think...I hope...Maybe haha.
Can you tell me a little bit about Nightmares, what was the inspiration behind your new show?
I’ve always been fascinated with duality (Jekyll and Hyde stories) as well as murder mysteries and ghost stories so NIGHTMARES combines all three. It also heavily deals with themes of mental illness, domestic abuse and the dangers of sexual repression (all things I have personal experiences with) but don’t let that put you off, this is still a fun little horror show with the added quirk that its a full-blown musical.
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing Nightmares to the stage?
NIGHTMARES was the second film I made during covid but thankfully it’s a very simple little story: One man, some props, a bit of voiceover and some great songs so adapting it as a stage version was actually pretty simple and I actually think it’s far more creative than the film was.
Do you ever face any pressure writing, directing and performing in a production like Nightmares?
The main pressure for me has always been the genre itself. How can I get people to take a horror musical seriously? They’re not two things that usually go together: “Horror” and “musical theatre” but I’ve always (and will always) write from the heart. I write what I personally would love to watch on stage and then it’s a case of hoping that people “get it”. But as far as the actual writing, directing and acting...for me is the easy part haha.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
I heard Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at a very young age and I’ve been obsessed with the theatre since. And it really is an obsession for me. So long as I breathe air I’ll be writing and staging my own shows. And now (thanks to covid) I know that I can also make films too.
How has your approach to your shows changed since setting up Shock Horror Theatre's debut production?
When I first started I had about as much money to work with as I do now but I was far too ambitious. Our first show was Dracula and I couldn’t even afford to have a set so we essentially had a table, a skull and a tablecloth haha (the costumes were nice though). And a lot of what I’d written in the script just couldn’t be done. I had written an epic sword fight between Van Helsing and Dracula with Dracula turning into a giant bat halfway through...Safe to say, what was ACTUALLY done with that fight was far less epic. So I’ve learned since then to scale the shows back, to focus on the story, the acting, the songs. I mostly stage shows with only two actors these days and they are far, far more effective because of it. I’ll get my Van Helsing/Dracula/Giant bat someday...Maybe.
"...I’ve learned since then to scale the shows back, to focus on the story, the acting, the songs."
What's the best piece of advice you would offer fellow theatre-makers?
Write what you love. Write from the heart and keep your fingers crossed the audience love it too haha.
And, finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Nightmares?
I hope they’ll come away from NIGHTMARES and think “Wow! I have never seen anything QUITE like that!”. I want the audience to be scared, disturbed, to think...But above all I want them to be entertained.