Actor and playwright Josh L. Hitchens, the Theater Artistic Director at Allens Lane Art Center in Mt. Airy and author of “Haunted History of Philadelphia” has always loved the macabre.
He’ll be showing off his skills in the genre this weekend at the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Germantown, where he’ll be staging a solo reading and performance of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” on Friday and Saturday nights.
We caught up with Hitchens, who’s lived in Philadelphia since he left his home in Sussex County, Delaware to attend Arcadia University in Glenside, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting in 2007 for a short Q & A:
“Ever since I was a young kid, I loved scary stories and ghost stories. I read Alvin Schwartz' 'In a Dark Dark Room' and later his series of 'Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,' as well as books and documentaries about haunted history and TV series like 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' 'Unsolved Mysteries' and The History Channel's 'Haunted History.' My grandparents took me on my first ghost tour at Colonial Williamsburg when I was 8. I was absolutely terrified and also knew that this is what I wanted to do when I grew up.”
“The show that brought me the most joy is my solo version of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol.' I have performed it every December since 2011, and I love telling it. It's so relevant to our time and always will be. It's the one show I have to do every year, or it doesn't feel like Christmas.”
“For the better, despite all the darkness of those days. It gave me time to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. I spent the lockdown period writing my first book, 'Haunted History of Delaware,' which was published in July, 2021. And almost immediately afterward I got a contract to write my second book, 'Haunted History of Philadelphia.' Without the pause of life the pandemic demanded, I would not be a published author today.”
“When I was a theater student at Arcadia, I was lucky to be taught by Grace Gonglewski, an extraordinary, nationally renowned actor. When we'd work on an emotional scene, she'd say, 'That's great work, but does it cost you too much?' Meaning, are you tapping into painful emotions that aren't safe for you to use in theater?
“To give the eulogy at my grandfather's funeral and attend the funeral of my uncle, who died right before the pandemic began.”
“My high school theater teacher, Helen Barlow. She is the person who first awakened my love of theater.”
For more information, call 215-438-1861 or visit ebenezermaxwellmansion.org