Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Hookup With Hitchcock: Part I

By Elisabeth Karlin

The epithet "Master of Suspense" that clings to Alfred Hitchcock like moss on a rock has always rung feebly for me. "Master of Dark Psychological Undertones, Chaos in an Ordered Universe and Moral Ambiguities" is more like it. I admit that it's a bit too wordy. That's why I stick simply with "The Master." This is the account of our collaboration, even though we never met.

Hitchcock has been on my mind quite a lot these past couple of years. As adjutant to Joel Gunz on the Alfred Hitchcock Geek Facebook Page and contributor to this blog, I have a daily dedication to saying something about the man. When fellows respond to what I put out there with their own thoughts I think about him some more. And of course I read Hitchcock savants like Gunz, Stephen Rebello, Steven DeRosa and Dan Auiler, and soon I feel like the composer in Rear Window, with Hitch in my apartment, adjusting my clock. You see, the more you think about Hitchcock, the more intrusive he becomes in your life. The more you look deeply into his work, the more you see. And the more you see, the more you want to say about it.

There was no fighting it. With Hitchcock a fixture in my consciousness, I had to dream up my own drama dealing in his deepest and most compelling themes. For me, the lure of Hitchcock has never been the spilling and splattering of blood. Rather, it is the question of what runs in our blood that gets me going back to the films. It is the way Hitchcock has of guiding his audience to disturbing discoveries about what makes us who we are that I see as the crux of his craft.

The result of this divine hookup with Hitch is Bodega Bay, a play about Louise Finch, the mousy sister of a meth addict, who leaves Staten Island for a cross-country odyssey to find the mother who mysteriously walked away years ago. Now, meth addicts on Staten Island might not sound like standard Hitchcock fare while transcontinental journeys and missing mothers might, and in upcoming posts I will elucidate and elaborate on the particular points of this creative embrace between The Master and me.

Elisabeth Karlin's play BODEGA BAY opens at The Abingdon Theatre in New York City on January 25th. For information go to www.abingdontheatre.org.

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