Portrait of Poe: see a play and support a cause for only $10

5 p.m. update: If you’d like to volunteer to help out the night of a performance, you’ll not only see the play for free, you’ll also receive free drinks and free tickets for a future performance. They especially need people Friday Oct. 14. Email Mark S. Sanders (m-s-sandersATcomcastDOTnet) to volunteer.

The Poe House needs your help.

Subsidies to the house will end soon. And without enough money to meet budget shortfalls, the house may have to close and stop giving tours to the public. You may have seen the sign for Pennies for Poe on my office door–making a donation is one way you can help keep the Poe house open.

Another way: See Mark Sanders, a noted Poe impersonator, in a one-man play this weekend for only $10.

A Portrait of Poe
Oct. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21
Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Performance begins at 8 p.m.
AREA 405, 405 E. Oliver Street
in the Station North Entertainment District

About the performance

“A Portrait of Poe” is a three act drama that explores the complexity of Poe’s character through dramatic recitations of his poems and excerpts from his short stories, correspondence and essays. Rather than add to the contradictions often encountered when attempting to present an accurate Poe, this play draws almost exclusively from his works and letters. In this way, it is hoped the renowned poet, author and critic will be allowed to speak for himself, while his inscrutability and mystique remains intact.

About the performer

Mark S. Sanders is an actor and poet who has had lead and supporting roles in numerous feature films, short subjects, music videos and plays. He has been a featured poet at nearly 100 venues and events including The Martin Luther King Memorial Library, The Maryland Institute College of Art and the WHFS Festival at RFK Stadium. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals and in 2000, he was honored with an individual artist grant for poetry by the Maryland State Arts Council.

One comment on “Portrait of Poe: see a play and support a cause for only $10
  1. Baltimore poet Mark Sanders (MS), brings Baltimore’s iconic Edgar Allen Poe to life at the 405 space on October 8th, 14th, 15th and 21st- (doors open 7:30, 8PM show- cost is $10). It’s at 405 Oliver St. just east of Guilford Avenue not far from Station North.

    A portion of all proceeds will be donated to “Pennies for Poe”, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Poe House. Raphel Alvarez, current president of the Poe Society and long-time Baltimore journalist, ably hosted along with Julie Fisher, Poetry in Baltimore website host. The famed Baltimore Poe re-en-actor, David Keltz attended this opening performance.

    Mark Sanders! Wow- could Mark please be invited to recite “The Raven” at a Ravens game? Or Ravens players of management donate to preserve the Poe House? Mark- deserves an M & T Bank size audience!

    He cleverly weaves Poe’s masterful poem throughout the play- and I realized that “The Raven” is NOT a schlocky poem (it’s only been taught that way) – not the way Mark does it. He brings out many differing emotions that are in the poem.

    Bring yer hankies; in this wrenching one man three act performance, Sanders does not concentrate on the macabre or horror in the tales but rather the pain caused Poe by the loss of his beloved young bride, Sissy- and his obsession in the poetry with the untimely death of a beautiful woman.

    Of course, the poem- “The Conqueror Worm” is horrific enough and Poe is clearly trying to refine his pain at his bride’s tubercular and consumptive bleeding into art and beauty.

    Poe is still apparently taught at some schools – at least in Baltimore, which happily proclaims Poe a native son. It’s hard to know whether his relentless rhyming is attractive or not to today’s tastes. Certainly “Annabel Lee” still seems over the top campy- but in the hands of Mark Sanders- the Poe poetry is powerful.

    Poe does a lot with interior rhymes and has a sense of musical cadence building that is impressive, not just jingly.

    The reason for this Poe event is also a reflection on our times. Poe House, a museum on Amity St. on the west side near the University of Maryland Hospital complexes and Martin Luther King Boulevard, set up to celebrate Poe’s life and work, has fallen on hard times. City budget cutbacks have closed it. The Poe Society, led by Rafael Alvarez, Baltimore journalist and writer, is trying to raise “pennies for Poe.”

    The 405 venue is perfect for this show- a theatre in an old factory somewhat reminiscent of the settings in the horror movie “SAW 1,2,3,4″- two blocks away from one of TV’s “The Wire” settings (the school section) with nearby Greenmount Cemetery and trains rumbling spookily through nearby tunnels. Parking is plentiful.

    Using mostly Poe’s own works and letters to him by such notables as Dickens and Hawthorne, Sanders is forever snatching sheets of paper from his pile of books and then reciting such works as “To Helen, and The Haunted Palace” ; but Sanders also contrasts the sadness with Poe’s somewhat stilted attempts at humor. Sanders Poe pokes fun at himself, a side of Poe’s character that seems true to life- e.g.- a crow talking… scary!” Sanders’ hard work put into many small gestures make this a wonderful performance.

    Think of the great artists inspired by Poe- Rachmaninoff’s great Requiem- “The Bells”, the movies, the tributes by such French masters as Baudelaire and Mallarme, the illustrators of his books such as Rackham and Clark, think of Poe’s visage staring out at you on the Beatles “Sgt Pepper” album- and you are glad Baltimore has him as a claim to fame. Europe realized his greatness before America- partly due to the besmirching his reputation suffered at the hands of his critic- Rufus Griswald.

    The performance left me wanting to console Sanders for his magnificent portrayal- at least with a stiff slug of brandy. He has earned it with his excellence and deserves the widest possible audience as we approach Halloween.

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