Photo Credit: Disse86 (Deviant Art)

For Women In Horror Month, Shannon had the chance to speak with the theatre director of the upcoming Zombie Joe performance, LOVECRAFT’S CTHULHU, Denise Devine. During their discussion, they talked about everything from Cthulhu to H.P. Lovecraft and what audience members can expect from this cosmic horror story.

Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Denise! Thank you so much for speaking with me today! This weekend your play, LOVECRAFT’S CTHULHU debuts. What inspired you to want to do a Lovecraft play? 

Denise Devine: To be honest – Zombie Joe! He suggested I try something like this for my next project. While I have directed many, many shows at ZJU, this is my first try at Horror. That is, much of my work includes some “scary”, and I am original cast of our Urban Death, which I did for years. So while I have a lot of experience performing Horror shows, I finally decided to take Zombie’s suggestion and try my hand at directing a horror story.

Lovecraft – well, it’s just awesome material! Rich, dense language, a great story, and a truly horrific premise – that as human beings – we are completely insignificant. Goes against all we have learned, and I think, hits a very deep nerve in the human psyche.

Nightmarish Conjurings: Lovecraft notoriously was not a fan of women which is why I think it’s amazing that you are directing a Lovecraft play. How do you plan on using women performers to tell these stories? 

DD: At ZJU, we have “gender bended” from the beginning. When I direct Shakespeare at ZJU, I just cast women in the parts, and let them play the part, without judgement. It seems to work out, and very often adds a richness to the play that cannot be unearthed with traditional casting. So that’s been my plan here for this piece. I am trying to use the women in the play similarly to men, and just let them play the parts. So far, I think it’s working out well and I am very happy with it.

Nightmarish Conjurings: Cthulhu is the most well-known of Lovecraft’s creations. What other creatures can fans look forward to seeing in your adaptation? 

DD: Hmmm, good question!! Well, I am doing an adaptation of only Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. But there will be other creatures, creations by the cast, forms, shapes, ghouls. I think fans will enjoy our Phantasms, monsters and explorations of the dark.

Nightmarish Conjurings: What challenges did you face when it came to directing this production and how were you able to work through those?

DD: I think the biggest challenge is delving into the heightened language, in a story telling fashion, and making it accessible to the modern audience, and part of the horror experience. There is no dialogue, per se, we are story telling. But it still needs to be theatrical, exciting, have movement and pace. I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a cast that is willing to collaborate in a fearless manner. So, together, we explore fear, and we keep in mind that this is a horror story first and foremost.

Nightmarish Conjurings: What do you think audience members are going to be most surprised about with this show? 

DD: How accessible Lovecraft’s language really is and how the story comes alive on stage. Also, how scary it is!

For more information on LOVECRAFT’S CTHULHU or to purchase tickets, visit

Shannon McGrew
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