The Werewolf–transformed by forces beyond our control
I’ve been in love with werewolves ever since I was a young boy. I used to have a standard werewolf outfit (tattered shorts and shirt) in my wardrobe, and I would slip into it at a moment’s notice. When I was in third grade I bought a latex full head werewolf mask, scary latex hands and feet, to which I affixed crepe hair. These implements, plus a brown sweatshirt, and slacks, and I was ready to go.
I remember one campout with some friends, and at midnight everyone else pretended to be asleep, as I pretended to turn into a werewolf, and threw myself around the tend with abandon. One of my fondest memories as a child was climbing a crab apple tree in our yard, wearing my tattered outfit, on Halloween night, and howling at the moon. For me, as a kid, it just didn’t get any better than that.
It wasn’t untill years later that I realized my werewolf fascination stemmed from the fact that I have Bipolar illness. To me, the were wolf was the perfect metaphor, the perfect artistic representation of what it feels like to be consumed with mania, or thrown into the pits of despair, by something as seemingly random as the cycle of the moon. I think all through the history of mankind, we’ve made up monsters to explain real-life conditions, and the half-man, half-beast is one of the richest, and most applicable fictions that we’ve come up with.
My play “The Wolfbane Cycle” (Scary Plays) is deeply indebted to the Lon Chaney movie, even as far as the name of the main character, and the titles go: “Wolfbane”, “Pure at Heart” and “Prayers by Night” (The name of the three plays), are of course taken from what I once considered the finest poetic utterance from the mouth of a human:
“Even a man who is pure at heart,
And says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf, when the wolfbane blooms,
And the moon is full and bright.”
Still gives me chills. T.S. Eliot, eat your heart out…