Following the rebroadcast of a live radio adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus on Sunday, October 20th, Seanchai Library, in association with The Ravenheart Museum of Art, Culture, and Curious Things and Fantasy Faire Radio, will be presenting a special live performance of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Sunday, October 27th, 2019.
Published in 1886, the novella is perhaps most famously known by the shorter title Jekyll and Hyde, although it has also been called The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It came three years after his first major commercial success, Treasure Island, and was followed shortly afterwards by Kidnapped (also first published in 1886), which between them form the triumvirate of Stevenson’s most famous works, although in his career he wrote 13 novels (two in progress at the time of his premature death at the age of 44), and also published six major collections of short stories.
Jekyll and Hyde was a product of Stevenson’s long-standing fascination with the manner in which the human personality involves the interplay of “right” and “wrong” (or “good” and “evil”, and what happens when this interplay becomes fractured within and individual. Whilst a work of fiction, the novella has nevertheless had a significant impact in defining personality traits, particularly with “Jekyll and Hyde” entering the vernacular in describing those who can exhibit extremes of personality – and may not even be cognisant of the abrupt swing from one to the other and back.
The novella itself had something of an extended gestation period.
In the 1870s, Stevenson became friends with French teacher Eugene Chantrelle, a seemingly pleasant member of the same Edinburgh circles in which Stevenson moved. Following Chantrelle’s arrest on suspicion of murdering his wife in 1878 (for which he was eventually hanged), Stevenson was present throughout the trial, during it which it was revealed the “upstanding” Chantrelle was, behind closed doors, a violent man – and was likely responsible for a series of murders in France and England – and possibly as many as six others in Edinburgh.
At the same time, Stevenson had written a play about another man with a double life in Edinburgh 100 years previously. William “Deacon” Brodie was, on the one hand, a respected Edinburgh craftsman well-regarded by the wealthy of the city- whom he would burgle by night in order to feed his secret gambling habit. That play, aided by a short story entitled Markheim, published in 1884, helped pave the way for the Jekyll and Hyde novella, with Chantrelle’s case acting as the core inspiration.
The story itself is said to come together very quickly, as related by both Stevenson’s wife, Fanny, and his step-son, Lloyd, and may have been spurred by a series of lucid dreams Stevenson suffered due to the drugs he was taking at the time to combat illness.
I don’t believe that there was ever such a literary feat before as the writing of Dr Jekyll. I remember the first reading as though it were yesterday. Louis came downstairs in a fever; read nearly half the book aloud; and then, while we were still gasping, he was away again, and busy writing. I doubt if the first draft took so long as three days.
– Samuel Lloyd Osbourne, Stevenson’s step-son
The 90-minute performance by Seanchai Library features a script adapted from the Stevenson’s work by Dav5id Abbot and Caledonia Skytower. It will take place at Wandervale, home of the creators of the Octoberville and Wicked Winter interactive experiences, and feature the voice talents of Abbot and Skytower, together with Corwyn Allen, Shandon Loring, Elrik Merlin, Kayden Oconnell, and Votarn “VT” Torvalar.
Residents are warmly invited to attend the performance in-world which will commence at 14:00 SLT on Sunday, October 27th, 2019. It will be broadcast on the region’s stream and also by Fantasy Faire radio at fantasy.radioriel.org, or http://streams.radioriel.org:8070/stream, and so can be listened to in-world from your own home or on the web.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Fantasy Faire Radio is sponsored by The Ravenheart Museum of Art, Culture, and Curious Things, featuring one of the largest public collections of Alia’s Baroque’s Libertine Eggs by Alia Baroque, and hosting the exhibition A Conspiracy of Ravens (read here for more about both exhibitions).