Before The Woman in Black was made into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe, it was a play adapted from a novel written by Susan Hill. The New Vic Theatre in Kalamazoo will perform the play starting Friday. The Woman in Black is your classic haunted house story.
It centers around an old man named Arthur Kipps, played by Arnie Johnston.
“Mr. Kipps was a lawyer and he, as a young man, was sent to a remote house on the north east of England to perform some lawyerly tasks and that’s when he had these horrible experiences,” says Johnston. “And he’s trying to purge himself of them. And he wants to have them acted out so that they will really have an effect on his friends and family, to make them understand what he’s been living with.”
So, Kipps hires an actor to help him tell the tale. Kipps and the actor are the only two people in the play. While the actor takes on the role of a much younger Arthur Kipps, old Kipps plays all of the other characters. So, if there are only two male actors, who plays the role of The Woman in Black herself—the spooky subject of the play?
“Well, we’d rather not say,” Director Jim Furney answers. “That’s the scary part.”
Furney says, with a scary story, the less you know the better. He used the movie Jaws as an example:
“Describing the shark, thinking about the shark, telling shark stories is scarier to your imagination than seeing the shark. And when you see it, it’s just in glimpses—in little pieces—and it goes by fast. But your imagination is the same here with The Woman in Black. Hearing about the woman, describing the woman, knowing the story, the bits and pieces that you pick up as this mystery—if you will—unfolds of what this story’s all about. As they tell the tale, your imagination and the tension build to something greater than maybe you actually seeing the woman and maybe you actually don’t.”
Without giving the play away, here are few hints from Furney and the cast:
“In telling the tale, shall we say we all become involved in the story,” says Furney.
“Go ahead and watch the movie because it’s completely different, they’re two different takes on the same story,” says Michael P. Martin who plays the actor portraying the young Arthur
Kipps. “The movie’s ending is completely different from this ending, so it doesn’t matter if you watch it or not.”
“Although there are hairs-breadth rescues, there are no escapes,” Arnie Johnston says as Furney and Martin laugh maniacally.
Arnie Johnston and Michael P. Martin will perform The Woman in Black at The New Vic Theatre starting Friday.