The Lovecraft Festival is over!

Sadly, the Lovecraft festival is over. We hope you all had a great time!

At the festival, three local Bay Area artists donated their time to create three stunning “Lovecraftian” paintings. If you didn’t get a chance to learn about the artists at the festival, didn’t win one of the prints as a door prize, or did attend the festival and want to see the cool images, they are below!

First, Ernesto Ortiz Leyva created this stunning piece.  Ernesto’s contact e-mail:

The second painting was created by Christine Monohan. You can view her portfolio here!
Christine’s contact e-mail:

Finally, the third poster was created by Adam Miller. His portfolio can be found here!
Adam Miller’s contact e-mail:

Adam Miller is a full-time employee of the Academy of Art University trying to find the time to become an actual artist and creative writer. His one published story is a piece of Conan the Barbarian fan fiction, but it won’t, heaven help him, be his last. He’s currently posting his creative efforts, along with the insights gained learning visual art as an adult, at his website:

The Lovecraft Festival Ends Tonight. Catch “The Hound” Again on KUSF

We conclude our H. P. Lovecraft Festival tonight with Stuart Bousel’s adaptation of THE DUNWICH HORROR. Be there to catch the horrifying conclusion to the festival. Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post St, San Francisco, at Leavenworth), 8pm curtain. Admission, as always, is free.

And, for those of you who can’t get enough of Lovecraft, This Thursday night Oct 28th, KUSF 90.3FM will broadcast a reprise of radio play THE HOUND from 7:30-8:00pm for a Halloween edition of Words On Theatre. The broadcast is also available online via KUSF livestream @

Lovecraft Festival Begins Tomorrow!

Three nights of harrowing tales drawn from master of horror H. P. Lovecraft kick off tomorrow at the San Francisco Theater Pub with Kai Morrison’s adaptation of The Shunned House.

Then, on Tuesday, October 19, we continue with three Lovecraft shorts, and wrap up the following week on October 25 with The Dunwich Horror.

All shows are performed in the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post St, San Francisco, at Leavenworth), 8pm curtain. Admission, as always, is free.

Lovers of Lovecraft on Lovecraft

In preparation for San Francisco Theater Pub’s LOVECRAFT FESTIVAL, our several adapters took a few moments to answer questions about their relationship with H. P. Lovecraft.

1) When did you first discover Lovecraft?

Ignacio Zuleta: At a tender and impressionable age when I was also studying for the verbal portion of the SAT.

Stuart Bousel: My freshman year of college my parents sort of randomly bought me a collection as a “fun book” for down time. I started reading it and was immediately hooked. Over the course of my four years at Reed I tracked down and read every published story of his that I could find and actually adapted “The Thing on the Doorstep” for my junior year screenwriting class.

Nirmala Nataraj: When I read “The Rats in the Walls” sometime during middle school. I was immediately attracted to the combination of restraint and foreboding in Lovecraft’s writing. Also, his catacomb-swept landscape and tale of tainted ancestry appealed to my already-existing preoccupation with the intersection between humanity and monstrosity. Seriously.

Kai Morrison: In High school, with the Call of Cthulhu role playing game.

Nathan Tucker: Not even the darkness knows how long it had been when I awoke from my disturbed slumber upon that cold cellar floor, the accursed pages of the Necronomicon open under my damp cheek. Would that I had never woken at all! Perhaps then I would still be in possession of my sanity… or what was left of it.

2) Why is he so cool?

Ignacio Zuleta: Because he is so flawed. His prose shines like a demented and ungainly jewel hacked from a vein of pure crystallized neurosis. His stories use the basest of pulp drivel as their core, yet unto that unpromising raw matter, Lovecraft has applied his perfectionistic literary obsessions in an act of self-mortifying and transformative alchemy. HPL is both visionary and revisionary, like the best minds I know in theatre.

Stuart Bousel: As someone who lived on the East coast till I was almost 13 and summered in New England quite a lot, I really love the way that Lovecraft evokes the autumnal gloominess and historical legacy of that part of the country. His imagination is also just brilliant and if you read his stories in the order of their composition you can watch him go from this precocious weirdo to a complex, articulate thinker who was able to create a whole alternate universe and cosmology that’s really fascinating and detailed yet also ambiguous enough to leave room for your own imagination to play.

Nirmala Nataraj: I am fascinated with the manner in which he populates quiet or mundane landscapes with supernatural terrors; secret passages in dilapidated New England mansions lead to ancient cities, sinister forests, and diseased slums. I see his work as a lurid commentary on the Industrial-era attraction to and repulsion for extinct civilizations: full of their malign entities, ravenous tribal deities, guttural demons, and revenants. Lovecraft offers a fearful depiction of the un-human other that is disturbingly revelatory of the period in which he wrote. There’s also a sense that Lovecraft’s monsters aren’t simply fantastical ghouls, but the natural consequence of the darker aspects of science and technology—which makes figures like Cthulhu decidedly more frightening than, say, vampires or werewolves.

Kai Morrison: He evokes monstrosity and terror without shock value. He doesn’t require “BOOGY-BOOGY-BOOGY” moments, he just describes in very analytical terms what is happening to whom, what they’re thinking. Perhaps the horror is more terrifying because the speaker is usually so calm, or attempting to be calm and failing.

Nathan Tucker: Lovecraft is cool, for he dwells in the lightless depths, far from the prying rays of that wretched, taunting star that the walkers above cherish so much – curse them!

3) What is your favorite Lovecraft story?

Ignacio Zuleta: “Call of Cthulhu”, which predates J-horror movie The Ring by decades for its ‘you-will-die-after-reading-this-horror-story’ structure. As a text, Cthulhu is a densely wrapped treat, with four or five nested narratives in the style of 1001 Nights, each peeling back to reveal a new onion layer of accumulating dread. It also will put you off seafood, or will make you crave sushi, depending on your sensibilities.

Stuart Bousel: It is a toss-up between “The Thing On the Doorstep” and “The Dreams In The Witch-House”, both because they are very atmospheric, well-paced, with abnormally well-drawn characters (for Lovecraft) and are centered around legends and echoes of the Salem witch trials and other New England spookiness.

Nirmala Nataraj: “The Shadow Out of Time,” which was written toward the end of Lovecraft’s life. It’s an exquisite culmination of some of Lovecraft’s most obsessive themes: isolation, madness, incomprehensible cosmic terror, and the agency wielded by forces beyond time and history.

Kai Morrison: “The Mound.” The way he unveils the underworld, which appears to be a paradise, then sours it to the point of disgust… genius!

Nathan Tucker: I dare not speak of the Lovecraftian tale that haunts my tormented days and sleepless nights. It tears at my mind with foul claws unseen!

4) Why did you pick the story you chose to adapt?

Ignacio Zuleta: Because it’s short, sexy, and savage – three words not commonly associated with ole’ H.P., but quite commonly associated with live drama.

Stuart Bousel: I chose “Dunwich Horror” because it has a lot of female characters, particularly Lavinia Whateley, who I’ve always found humanly tragic in a way that’s rare for Lovecraft; additionally it has an abnormal amount of action and dialogue for a Lovecraft story, which makes it an obvious possibility for dramatic adaptation; lastly, it offers a broader portrait of the society of Lovecraft’s “Shadow New England”, from the urban professors of Arkham down to the rural housewives of Dunwich. I, personally, tend to find stories of societies and the individuals within them more interesting than isolated accounts of experience apart from the outside world.

Nirmala Nataraj: Because I couldn’t resist the challenge of adapting such an iconic tale (“Call of Cthulhu”) to a 20-minute staged reading in a bar.

Kai Morrison: At first, I chose “Shunned House” because of its deceptive nature. It seems like a simple haunted house or ghost story, which are often quite tame, but then shows how truly terrifying and epic a localized horror can be. As I thought more about it, and how to make a better stage play of the story (add character details, moments of intrigue, etc) I began to fall in love with the elements that were coming out of the questions I was asking. It’s bigger than I expected.

Nathan Tucker: I did not choose to adapt “Pickman’s Model”. I was helpless in its unspeakable grip. Its noxious words still burn upon my harried retinas. PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF MERCY, TAKE MY EYES!!

5) If you were a Lovecraft hero (or villain), who would you be and why?

Ignacio Zuleta: I’d be one of the time-traveling, body-hopping, superhuman Yithian Intellects from the Shadow out of Time, who are much like Doctor Who, except with cell-phone time-dialing service instead of a moldy old phone booth.

Stuart Bousel: I’ve always loved Dan Upton from “The Thing on the Doorstep” because he’s so solid, but there is a part of me that relates strongly to Edward Derby, from the same story, because he’s a dreamer prone to trusting the wrong people.

Nirmala Nataraj: Randolph Carter, ever seeking the lost city of my dreams.

Kai Morrison: A shoggoth. They’re so cute!

Nathan Tucker: Hero or villain? Such questions are irrelevant knowing we will all ultimately be devoured by the daemon sultan Azathoth, who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.

6) Lovecraft vs. Poe- who wins?

Ignacio Zuleta: Lovecraft, by a pseudopod, but Poe is too drunk to notice, care, or even compete in the footrace.

Stuart Bousel: Lovecraft loved Poe and was deeply influenced by him (and Lord Dunsinay), but while he owes a great deal to Poe, I would say his best stories far surpassed any of Poe’s horror tales on both a technical level and in regards to literary vision.

Nirmala Nataraj: Poe and Lovecraft were consummate masters of their craft, and the worlds they created were uniquely terrifying. But Poe is the author who begat the detective story and was credited for giving the Gothic tale of the Romantic Period a serious overhaul. Poe is the originator of the modern horror story, the grandfather of musty subterranean passages and ominous repressed desires. His poetic voice was second to none—and he wrote scads of satires, parodies, and experimental stories that made him a formidable literary juggernaut. My bet’s on Poe.

Kai Morrison: Did Poe create an interstellar/ultracosmic uber-creature that lives outside of reality itself and hungers to devour all of existence? No. No, he did not.

Nathan Tucker: Lovecraft vs. Poe? This question is unanswerable, for the mind any witness would surely dissolve under the onslaught of such a battle! I shudder to even imagine it.

7) Who are other horror writers you like and recommend?

Ignacio Zuleta: Clive Barker, for pan-sexual hotness, and for knowing how to push our tender buttons.

Stuart Bousel: Bram Stoker for his beautiful prose and intricate plot lines; Shirley Jackson for her complex characters and unapologetic grandiose style; Angela Carter for her intellect and attention to details; Clive Barker for being both old-school creepy and post-modern progressive when it comes to the characters. Ray Bradbury is probably the closest any modern writer has come to capturing Lovecraft’s spirit, especially in his collection of stories, October Country.

Nirmala Nataraj: Tanith Lee’s fantasy horror cycle “The Secret Books of Paradys” is a work of unheralded genius that ranks among one of my favorite pieces of literature. I imagine she owes a debt to Lovecraft; her book is full of gorgeous baroque prose, esoteric mythology, and crumbling landscapes fraught with ancient secrets, decay, and luxury. I’m also a huge fan of the Comte de Lautreamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror; written in the 1860s, it was constantly name-dropped by the later Surrealists. It’s not horror, per se, but it’s a rhapsodic and revolting paean to Evil that makes me delightedly squeamish as I read it, to this day. Joyce Carol Oates edited a superb treasure trove of stories, American Gothic Tales, that is perfect reading for a dark and stormy night. Because I love gothic horror, I tend to go for subtlety, atmosphere, and restraint—but I also love horror movies, especially the extravagantly sadistic oeuvre of Dario Argento.

Kai Morrison: There is an excellent collection of hybrid stories that place Sherlock Holmes in the world of HP Lovecraft and all its horrors titled “Shadows Over Baker Street.” It has some excellent authors in it and they really explore the beauty of a dangerously brilliant rational mind in a world full of things that cannot be rationally explained. It’s lovely.

Nathan Tucker: I dare only utter the name Howard Philips Lovecraft. They watch me from the shadows. I can hear their soundless whispering. Please, don’t ask me that question again! Please!!

The H. P. Lovecraft Festival begins October 18 with The Shunned House, continues October 19 for three Lovecraft shorts, and concludes on October 25 for The Dunwich Horror. All shows are performed in the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post St, San Francisco, at Leavenworth), 8pm curtain. Admission, as always, is free.

Who is H. P. Lovecraft?

Who was H. P. Lovecraft? Theater Pub Co-Founder Stuart Bousel, who adapts and directs his classic story The Dunwhich Horror has the answers (thanks in large part to Wikipedia):

H. P. Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the only child of Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a traveling salesman, and Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, who was a direct descendant of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. In 1893, when Lovecraft was three, his father became acutely psychotic in a Chicago hotel room while on a business trip and was taken back to Providence and placed in Butler Hospital, where he remained until his death in 1898. After his father’s hospitalization, Lovecraft was raised by his mother, his two aunts, and his maternal grandfather. All five resided together in the family home. Lovecraft was a prodigy, reciting poetry at the age of three and writing complete poems by six. His grandfather encouraged his reading while his mother, on the other hand, worried that these stories would lead to conditions similar to her husband’s. Lovecraft was frequently ill as a child and due to his sickly condition and his undisciplined, argumentative nature, he barely attended school until he was eight years old, and then was withdrawn after a year. He read voraciously during this period and became especially enamored of chemistry and astronomy. He produced several hectographed publications with a limited circulation beginning in 1899 with The Scientific Gazette. Four years later, he returned to public school at Hope High School.

His grandfather’s death in 1904 greatly affected Lovecraft’s life. Mismanagement of his grandfather’s estate left his family in such a poor financial situation they were forced to move. Lovecraft was so deeply affected by the loss of his home and birthplace that he contemplated suicide for a time. In 1908, prior to his high school graduation, he himself claimed to have suffered what he later described as a “nervous breakdown”, and consequently never received his high school diploma (although he maintained for most of his life that he did graduate). This failure to complete his education (he wished to study at Brown University) was a source of disappointment and shame even late into his life. In 1919, after suffering from hysteria and depression for a long period of time, Lovecraft’s mother was committed to Butler Hospital just like her husband before her. Nevertheless, she wrote frequent letters to Lovecraft, and they remained very close until her death on May 21, 1921, the result of complications from gall bladder surgery. Lovecraft was devastated by the loss.

Lovecraft wrote some fiction as a youth but, from 1908 until 1913, his output was primarily poetry. During that time, he lived a hermit’s existence, having almost no contact with anyone but his mother. This changed when he wrote a letter to The Argosy, a pulp magazine, complaining about the insipidness of the love stories of one of the publication’s popular writers. The ensuing debate in the magazine’s letters column caught the eye of Edward F. Daas, President of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA), who invited Lovecraft to join them in 1914. This reinvigorated Lovecraft and incited him to contribute many poems and essays. In 1917, at the prodding of correspondents, he returned to fiction with more polished stories, such as “The Tomb” and “Dagon”. The latter was his first professionally-published work, appearing in The Vagrant (November, 1919) and Weird Tales in 1923. Around that time, he began to build up a huge network of correspondents, including Robert Bloch (“Psycho”), Clark Ashton Smith  and Robert E. Howard (“Conan the Barbarian”).

A few weeks after his mother’s death, Lovecraft attended an amateur journalist convention in Boston where he met Sonia Greene. They married in 1924, and the couple moved to Brooklyn where Greene owned a hat shop. Initially, Lovecraft was enthralled by New York, but soon the couple was facing financial difficulties. Greene lost her hat shop and suffered poor health. Lovecraft could not find work to support them both, so his wife moved to Cleveland for employment. Lovecraft lived by himself in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn and came to dislike New York life intensely, a sentiment he sublimated in the short story “The Horror At Red Hook.” A few years later, Lovecraft and his wife, still living separately, agreed to an amicable divorce, which was never fully completed. He returned to Providence to live with his aunts during their remaining years.

Back in Providence, Lovecraft lived in a “spacious brown Victorian wooden house” at 10 Barnes Street until 1933. The same address is given as the home of Dr. Willett in Lovecraft’s only novel, “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. The period after his return to Providence — the last decade of his life — was Lovecraft’s most prolific. In that time he produced almost all of his best-known short stories (“The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Thing on the Doorstep”, “The Dreams in the Witch-House”, “The Haunter in the Dark”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “The Rats in the Walls”, “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, “The Shunned House”) for the leading pulp publications of the day (primarily Weird Tals), as well as longer efforts, such as the stream of consciousness novella, “At The Mountains of Madness”. He frequently revised work for other authors and did a large amount of ghost writing, including “Under The Pyramids” (also known as “Imprisoned With the Pharaohs”) for Harry Houdini. Despite his best writing efforts, however, he grew ever poorer. He was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt. He was also deeply affected by Robert E. Howard’s suicide. In 1936, Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the intestine, and he also suffered from malnutrition. He lived in constant pain until his death on March 15, 1937, in Providence.

Lovecraft was listed along with his parents on the Phillips family monument. That was not enough for his fans, so in 1977 a group of them raised the money to buy him a headstone of his own in Swan Point cemetery, on which they had inscribed Lovecraft’s name, the dates of his birth and death, and the phrase “I AM PROVIDENCE”, a line from one of his personal letters. Though only a modest success in his lifetime, interest in his work has progressively escalated with every passing decade. Iconic American authors Stephen King and Joyce Carole Oates list him as a principal influence on their work and British writers Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore also consider him to have had a profound affect on their artistic visions. Film-makers John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, Stuart Gordon and Daniel Gildark have all tried their hand at interpreting his work to film and Jorge Luis Borges wrote “There Are More Things” in memory of Lovecraft. Heavy metal bands Black Sabbath and Metallica both have numerous songs referencing Lovecraft’s work, as does the best-selling game “World of Warcraft”. The Necronomicon, Lovecraft’s invented spellbook of the damned, has become so iconic in pop-culture that claims to its actual existence continue to this day, ironically make the most famous book Lovecraft ever wrote, one that has yet to be written.

The H. P. Lovecraft Festival begins October 18 with The Shunned House. Join us again on October 19 for three Lovecraft shorts and finally on October 25 for The Dunwich Horror. All shows are performed in the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post St, San Francisco, at Leavenworth). 8pm curtain. Admission free.

‘Wilde Card’ Deals an Ace. Lovecraft Looms for October

Wilde Card stormed by on September 20 with clashing swords and clinking glasses, and Theater Pub’s got something even more sinister in mind for Halloween – three adaptations of stories from the master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft.

The H. P. Lovecraft Festival begins October 18 with The Shunned House. Join us again on October 19 for three Lovecraft shorts and finally on October 25 for The Dunwich Horror. All plays are presented radio play style, adapted and directed by local writers.

All shows are performed in the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post St, San Francisco, at Leavenworth), 8pm curtain. Admission, as always, is free.

SF Guardian Cries “Long Live SF Theater Pub”

In addition to Nicole Gluckstern’s short review below, critic Sam Stander praised San Francisco Theater Pub’s casual, freewheeling adaptation of Ubu Roi last Monday. The full article, which can be viewed at the Guardian site here is reprinted below.


Sam Stander – San Francisco Bay Guardian – July 22

SF Theater Pub’s one-night-only presentation of Alfred Jarry’s bawdy classic Ubu Roi this past Monday felt like nothing so much as a group of dedicated friends putting on a show because they thought it just might turn out awesome. The staged reading took place at SF lounge Café Royale, a pleasant venue with couches and balcony seats as well as standing room that rendered the production all the more intimate.

The play is a deliberately sick-and-twisted piss-take on Macbeth, eviscerated of all its pathos and stuffed full of crap, and the Theater Pub performers, as well as director Bennett Fisher’s new translation, seemed entirely tuned in to its irreverence. Greedy, grubby protagonist Pere Ubu was played with alternating witlessness and pomposity by Sam Leichter, but the most successful comic performer on display was Catherine Lardas, who delivered a positively Oliver Hardy-esque Mere Ubu. The herald Pile (Warden Lawlor) stood above the other actors on the balcony, reciting increasingly complicated titles for Pere Ubu as he continued to murder and annex the positions of several other noblemen.

Music and sound effects from DJ Wait What were evocative of old radio plays, and the minimal use of props such as a giant plastic sword generated a few laughs. The show certainly felt like a one-off event, with all the actors reading their lines from music stands, but this only added to the sense of comeraderie and fun.

Besides the fact that SF Theater Pub’s events are free (a donation at the door will get you a raffle ticket!), their most attractive feature is their apparent modernist sensibility when selecting plays. They’ve already put on Václav Havel’s Audience and an assortment of Greek tragedies. They’re following up Ubu with a collection of short local plays under the heading “The Pint Sized Plays.” Their blog then announces a series of Beckett shorts for September, though on Monday night they claimed September would hold some Oscar Wilde performances.

Most fascinatingly to this reporter, they’ll be celebrating Halloween with a series of radio play-style adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories. There’s nothing I love more than hearing people say “eldritch” and “gibbous” out loud, so those should be jolly good fun. This diverse roster of plays, as well as a genuine sense of joy, means SF Theater Pub are ones to watch in the coming months. Especially since watching them is totally free!

San Francisco Theater Pub Announces Programming for August, September, and October

Before the performances of AUDIENCE this Monday and Tuesday, San Francisco Theater Pub co-founder Stuart Bousel revealed a little more of what’s in store for the next year.

In August, we will be mounting THE PINT SIZED PLAYS – a festival of short plays by San Francisco writers each performed in the length of time it takes to finish a beer – anywhere from ten minutes to a few seconds. We are excited for the first time to accept submissions by Bay Area playwrights. The rules: two to three characters, just as many beers, a table and a few chairs, and no longer than ten minutes (seven page script maximum). The rest is up to you. THE PINT SIZED PLAYS will run Mondays August 16, 23, and 30 at the Cafe Royale.

Submissions are due by May 21st. Please email a properly formatted script to with ‘Your Name – Pint Sized Submission’ in the subject line.

In September, we will return with another full production, a series of short plays by Samuel Beckett running playing two consecutive Mondays on September 20 and 27 at the Cafe Royale. The evening will feature infrequently performed gems such as CATASTROPHE, WHAT WHERE?, OHIO IMPROMPTU and COME AND GO. We are excited to present a different side of Beckett’s genius in a very different sort of setting.

In October, in the spirit of Halloween, we are planning a LOVECRAFT FESTIVAL, celebrating the life and work of the enigmatic  master of horror H. P. Lovecraft. The festival will run October 18, 19, and 25 and will feature original radio play style adaptations of three different H. P. Lovecraft stories. For fans of Lovecraft, this is not an event to miss.

We will announce the final shows of our season for the months of November and December before the final performances. If you have not seen AUDIENCE yet (or if you feel like another another go-round), we will be back for our final two performances in just under two weeks. Don’t miss it!

-Victor Carrion, Stuart Bousel, Bennett Fisher, and Brian Markley

AUDIENCE by Vaclav Havel runs May 3 and 4.  8pm at the Cafe Royale (800 Post, at Leavenworth) and admission is free. Reserve a place by emailing