The Doctor and the Devils
by Dylan Thomas
adapted and directed by Dan Balkin
featuring: David Jenkins, Nathan Todd, Madeline Blue, Katie Stults, Kristy Powers, and Abdel Gonzalez
First imagined over the summer of 2008, this chilling adaptation of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s screenplay engages the viewer in a terrifying look at how greed and ‘the greater good’ serve as equal justification for the most heinous acts. Set in late 19th-century Edinburgh and based on a true story, ‘The Doctor and the Devils’ tells the tale of a world-class anatomist who turns to the city’s most wretched for a fresh supply of corpses. When a trio of entrepreneurial graverobbers decide to up the ante, we see a tragic – and at times sinisterly hilarious – series of events weave the noose of fate.
Originally presented at the Wings Theater in New York, ‘The Doctor and the Devils’ was extensively workshopped for its appearance in the 2009 International FringeNYC Festival in New York, where it enjoyed a sold out run at the Milagro Theater on the Lower East Side, and was selected for Outstanding Costume Design (Luke Brown) from among the FringeNYC offerings. These performances marked the first time Thomas’s screenplay had been adapted for the stage in the United States.
Production staff: Luke Brown (costumes), Daniel Carlyon (sound), Jenna McBride (web & graphics), Carly Levin (stage manager), Scott Needham (lighting)
About the Adaptation
The Doctor and the Devils blurs the lines of morality and poverty, indulgence and animalistic need. It begs us to question how our own humanity would hold up in the face of genuine fear , easy success, or directly against those who thrive on the misery of their fellow man. In re-imagining our production for the New York International Fringe Festival, we strove to live within our twisted world and fully explore the dark recesses of the mind and human soul. I believe we have found a vibrant landscape riddled with cruel men and brutal acts. The shadows of those acts haunt us to our bitter end. Let us today dissect the human conscience.
Lay it on the slab. Open it up.
–Daniel Balkin, adaptor and director
About the Screenplay
The Doctor and the Devils was based on the historically factual incident of the body-snatchers Burke and Hare, who supplied the famous and eccentric anatomist Dr. Knox with dead bodies for anatomical study and research. Dylan Thomas creates a drama of Jacobean horrors iridescent with his own poetic vision of death, corruption, and terror. The poet’s attraction to his tale brings to mind the young Dylan Thomas’s boast, ‘I’d prefer to be an anatomist or the keeper of a morgue any day.’
– John Ackerman
from the forward to The Doctor and the Devils