At Fort Moultrie, the dank halls and rooms where Edgar Allan Poe was once stationed are the perfect setting for ghastly storytelling. Over the past few years, Creative Spark’s Poe: Back from the Grave has become a tried and true performance art piece/haunted house for literary fans.
V.I.P. ticketholders gathered Saturday night for a small pre-party at the graceful Sullivan’s Island home of artist Beth McLean and Dicky Hopkins, just a couple of doors down from the fort. A fanciful gothic fountain poured Poe’s Potion (spiked pink punch) for guests, or they could opt for the keg of Palmetto Lager on the porch. Triangle Char and Bar served delicious Southern eggrolls stuffed with pulled pork and collards and a barbecue dipping sauce.
Using both the inside and outside of the fort, a motley cast of characters shared Poe’s macabre tales. Themes of death, dementia, and despair were fully explored with black and white videos projected on the walls along with live vignettes bringing various tales to life, including “The Imp of the Perverse,” “Annabel Lee,” “The Black Cat,” and “The Cask of the Amontillado.”
The finale was a funeral for Poe where the audience became pallbearers and drummers. Magically, Poe appeared at his own funeral and was quite jovial as his friends and family roasted him saying things like, “He was a drunk feckless incestuous jerk who wrote some stories.” Some even called into question his sexuality, with one man claiming EAP was “the pit to his pendulum.”
On the way into a tent full of mini cupcakes, we each put a flower on Poe’s pretend casket. Osceola, who is actually buried at the fort, was probably rolling in his grave. Maybe it was poetic justice.