Bunce has tackled quite a few acting challenges in the past,
playing everything from the avuncular narrator in Our Town
to the homicidal home invader in Wait Until Dark. But
there was one challenge he hadn’t faced until recently. Prior
to an experience he had last month, the New York State Theatre
Institute actor-instructor had never performed opposite a
don’t think I’ve done anything with this level of terror,”
he says. “Like any actor, I’m thinking ‘When have I been terrified,
and how can I reach that?’ But when they say ‘Make that face
and scream’ for the tenth time, it has more to do with making
the face and screaming than searching your soul for what terror
Last month, Bunce spent 12 days in Rutland, Vt., shooting
his role in Arachnia, a low-budget horror flick produced
by Rutland-based company Edgewood Studios. In it, he plays
Professor Murgford, a paleontologist flying to Arizona when
a meteor shower downs his plane in an unnamed mountain range.
The meteor shower also lures “spiders the size of Volkswagens”
from their subterranean domain to the earth’s surface, so
Murgford and his fellow passengers become potential snacks.
Bunce isn’t sure which of his character’s moments is the defining
one, but he’s happy to run through the contenders:
could be the moment where I see the goofy graduate assistant
ripped apart by the spiders and puke my guts out. It could
be the moment where, during the standoff in the barn, the
spider comes up through the ground and I push one of the coeds
into it to avoid getting killed myself. It could be my death,
where I’m surrounded by giant spiders and I run screaming
like a girl. I’m sort of the Dr. Smith character from Lost
in Space, because I’m almost abusively arrogant at the
Bunce says Arachnia has plenty to thrill the exploitation-flick
audience, from gore scenes to a vignette of coeds sharing
a sponge bath. He adds that director Brett Piper is preparing
extensive effects with stop-motion animation—the same technique
used to bring King Kong to lifefc in 1933—and that the movie
should be out sometime next year.
Aside from the paycheck and the work experience, Bunce says
he had specific reasons for wanting to appear in a bargain-basement
horror flick. “I wanted to see myself dubbed into Japanese,”
he explains. “And I wanted to see the same great look on my
son’s face when he talks about my film as when he mentions
Bruce Campbell.” Campbell, star of such campy gorefests as
Evil Dead II, is a favorite actor of young Ben Bunce,
who’s now in his first year of college. “Ben said ‘All my
friends are going to want to see this movie.’ ”
As for the giant spiders themselves, Bunce never saw them—because
the producers didn’t have enough cash to build the monsters
in their entirety. In fact, Bunce’s fellow NYSTI actor John
Romeo recorded a voice-over for the Arachnia trailer
in which he recited the lines “death on eight legs” and “death
on six legs,” just in case budget cuts precluded a full octet
Only parts of the monsters were ever on the set with the actors.
“They had a variety of heads that could be manipulated,” he
says. “One of them was intact. One of them had a removable
eye so a black balloon full of chocolate pudding could be
put in there—one fof the girls stabs it in the eye, so it
squirts goo. And they had two heads that were in various stages
of decay. And they had claws—they looked like crab claws—that
could be put on people’s arms.”
So how did the actor like working with imaginary monsters?
“I thought it was going to be different,” Bunce says. “I haven’t
done much acting opposite things that aren’t there. But I
realized that every time I rehearse at home and there’s no
one there, I’m acting to nothing—so it really wasn’t a whole
lot different than just rehearsing. I ended up using pretty
much the same tools that I always use.”
it’s National Poetry Month and, fittingly, the program for
one of the area’s largest poetry events has been announced.
The Woodstock Poetry Festival will take over the Catskill
arts village from Aug. 22 to Aug. 25. Festival headliners
include beat poet, painter and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti;
U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins; past New York State Poet
Sharon Olds; Li-Young Lee; Robert Kelly; and Michael McClure.
Venues will include galleries, restaurants, theaters, the
town library, the environmental sculpture Opus 40 and even
the village streets, where spontaneous happenings will inevitably
The festival had its first run last August. “There was a great
response to the festival, much more than any of us working
on it dreamed of,” says Laurie Ylvisaker, coordinator of last
summer’s event. Ylvisaker and many of the team of organizers
from last year’s event are back for another run as the festival
solidifies into an annual Woodstock event. “It’s the same
weekend, it’s a year later,” says Ylvisaker, who hopes “the
poetry festival will become a very important part of the Woodstock
Gallery owner and festival board member Tom Fletcher says
the festival is “here to stay—we’re already looking years
ahead. I think it’s going to be part of the landscape here.”
Ylvisaker and Fletcher indicate that more emphasis will be
placed this summer on enhancing the quality of festival events.
According to Ylvisaker, the 2002 festival will also expand
beyond last summer’s gathering in a couple of ways: A day
has been added to extend the festival across four days, and
the festival has forged an important collaborative effort
with the nearby Omega Institute. Ferlinghetti, Collins, Lee
and Olds will stay over to participate in a five-day poetry
conference at Omega during the week immediately following
the festival (check out www. eomega.org for details).
Fans of the Beat poets should be particularly excited to see
Ferlinghetti on the festival schedule. The octogenarian is
one of the few central characters among the Beats still alive
and reading. He still runs the City Lights Bookstore and publishing
operation in San Francisco, and spends much of his time these
days working with paint instead of words. A show of Ferlinghetti’s
art will open during the festival at the Kleinert gallery,
and his reading at the Bearsville Theater concludes the festival’s
events on Aug. 25. McClure, a fellow member of the San Francisco
branch of the Beats, will also perform at the festival.
In addition to the headliners, there will be numerous reading
by poets from the Ulster County area, and at least three open
mikes that organizers guarantee will run well into the night.
Those preferring to sleep outdoors will again have the opportunity
to camp out among the curving stone walls of Harvey Fite’s
Opus 40 environmental sculpture.
Fletcher noted that even though the first run of “the festival
just broke even,” there are no big corporate sponsors. “The
festival is funded through the sale of tickets,” he says.
According to Ylvisaker, tickets for the festival should be
available in June. Tickets will be available for the full
festival, individual days and specific events. Limited seating
is available for many events, and tickets will be sold on
a first-come, first-served basis. To find out more about the
Woodstock Poetry Festival, check out their Web site at www.Woodstock
poetryfestival.com or write to Woodstock Poetry Festival,
Box 450, Woodstock, N.Y., 12498.
as they’re celebrating their first year of presenting an eclectic
assortment of live music, the bookers at the Larkin Lounge
are adding poetry to their repertoire. On Sunday (April
14) at 9 PM, the Albany club will host the first installment
of a new poetry-reading series; the night’s guests include
Paul Felksy, Timothy Pastore and Joseph Mulligan.
Want to know more? Call 463-5225. . . . The honchos at the
Egg are looking for African-American community members
to participate in workshops with choreographer Andrea Woods,
who is developing a new dance work titled Love Letters.
Woods seeks area African-Americans interested in sharing their
stories of family and love, some of which will be integrated
into her piece. The workshops will take place from May 7 to
May 9, and interested parties should contact the Egg’s executive
director, Peter Lesser, at 473-1064. . . . Send Art
Beat items to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 463-2500 ext.