Horror High

Nominated for a Dora Award, Outstanding Production in Children's Theatre.

Three friends — two teenagers and a film projectionist — share a love of horror movies. One night the projectionist falls to his death on the subway tracks. Was it an accident or suicide? His friends have to figure out how to carry on in a world where horror feels all too real.

Horror High was wildly ambitious. Coming off the success of Thin Ice, Artistic Producer Susan Serran urged me to break new ground with a multimedia technique in which live actors interacted with characters on film (film director Keith Hlady). I directed the premiere in 1989, for Theatre Direct at Factory Theatre, Toronto. The actors were fantastic: Martin Julien and Lynda Hill with percussionist Rick Sacks playing Nic Gotham's score. Opening night was sizzling and our teen audiences were dazzled.The next day I was taken aback by the grudging reviews. I wish I had just one photo of the unbelievably colourful set, or a photo still of the elaborate mock funeral we filmed. 

Despite the critical response, audiences loved the show. Theatre Direct forged ahead and planned a national tour of the play but the technology was just too expensive at the time. The Board of Directors balked at the expense and Susan Serran resigned. And so, no more Horror High. 

I hate to admit it, but I don’t even have a full version of the script: like several of my works from the eighties, it is stranded somewhere on a floppy disc. Maybe I’ll dig it out some day. 

Excerpted in Acting Out: Scenes and Monologues from Theatre Direct Productions for Youth, ed. Lynda Hill, Playwrights Canada Press, 2006.


Scene One

SPHINX standing in shadows, some light on the face, her movie usher’s flashlight is ON.

SPHINX:    This morning I got up and went down for breakfast and I think my mother poisoned my cereal because I had cramps all day. My sister was hogging the bathroom so when she came out, I strangled her. When I finally got to school, I was slapped with a detention. Everyone was staring at me. They must have noticed the punctures on my throat. My teacher’s head exploded just before the bell went. It was disgusting. I nearly threw up. When I was in the pool, a giant barracuda came out and ate half this girl’s legs. I couldn’t really get excited about that because the poisoned cereal had burned a large black hole through my clothes. I was worried someone might notice and think I had my period or something. Luckily, everyone else had turned into a zombie from hell.

I have no friends so I couldn’t go and meet one.

After science I had a spare and went to the library, but Miss Myers came after me with an ax. So, I figured I would study at home instead. When I got home my mother was back early. She chained me to her wrist and offered to drive me to work. As we walked to the garage, she hummed the death march. I forgot to mention that she was wearing a hockey mask.