Horror theater group Vagrant Fear Productions to stage 'chilling tales of love and terror'

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
David Detlefs, owner and producer of Vagrant Fear Productions, performs as his alter ego, Narly, during a variety show June 11 at Ames City Auditorium.

Vagrant Fear Productions, a horror-focused theatrical company based in Ames, is staging “The Dark Side of Love” Friday and Saturday at Ankeny Community Theatre.

According to Vagrant Fear owner David Detlefs, the shows are “two chilling tales of love and terror.”

“It’s two 45-minute scripted shows that are locally written,” Detlefs said. “We’ve got suspenseful, thriller stories, but both stories center around the emotion of love.

“It fits the feeling of what we do at Vagrant Fear, which is to take human elements and express it through horror, through fear, through the supernatural.”

All of company’s productions so far have been locally written, produced and acted using central Iowa talent.

Stephanie Schneider, Joe Kirwin, Abby Luchsinger, Jenny Burton and Emma Norman performed in a Vagrant Fear horror production at the Des Moines Civic Center in October 2021.

The company’s main scriptwriter is Josh Oren, who was a grad student at Iowa State when Detlefs met him. Oren wrote the script for Vagrant Fear’s first show after COVID-19, which was held in October of 2021 at the Des Moines Civic Center.

Oren also wrote “Safest Place in the Cosmos,” which is one of the two shows to be staged Friday and Saturday. The show is directed by Michael Berg and stars Sydney Brown, Tim Overton, Kiera McGregor and LeWayne White.

“The Power of Love” is the second scary love story, which is written and directed by Wes Worthing. It stars Stephanie Schneider, Dane Van Brocklin, Gabriela Fuentes, Jordan Clemens and Arlen Deleske.

“We’ve joined with Ankeny Community Theatre to use their space for the July 15 and 16 shows. That’s the vagrant part of Vagrant Fear – we don’t have a home,” Detlefs said. “We get an idea for a production and then we look for places to host us.”

Tickets are $15 and are available at midwestix.com or at the door at the time of the performance if seats are still available. The theater is located at 1932 SW Third St., Ankeny. Shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Sam Rezz performs an artistic hula hoop routine during a Vagrant Fear variety show June 11 at Ames City Auditorium.

Vagrant Fear

First Vagrant Fear show was standing-room only

“We began in 2019 with a small show at Reliable Street here in Ames,” Detlefs said. “We expected maybe 30 people and had over 100 show up between the two nights. This showed us that there was an interest in this type of theatre. Then COVD hit.”

The Reliable Street show was a collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories, which were performed for standing-room-only crowds.

In October 2021, Vagrant Fear held its comeback show at the Des Moines Civic Center to a moderate-sized audience.

“We feel that with the terror and uncertainty that gripped out society the last few years, we would give the public a cathartic way to release that fear and anxiety in a safe environment.  So far, people have been very responsive,” Detlefs said.

On June 11, Vagrant Fear held a variety show at Ames City Auditorium.

Greg Romans performs during a Vagrant Fear variety show June 11 at Ames City Auditorium.

“It was a horror-based variety show,” Detlefs said. “We had some magic, body manipulation, singing, spoken word, a dramatic reading, some comedy. It was kind of an experiment to try something new. We got some gasps and some ahs from the audience. We had a girl (Sam Rezz) who stuck a screwdriver up her nose.”

Rezz does an act she calls sideshow and has an amazing hula hoop act, Detlefs said. She also has instances of what’s called blockhead, which is when she put the screwdriver up her nose, but she did a lot more than that and is practicing swallowing swords for future shows.

Rezz’s performance and the other acts were noteworthy for Detlefs' daughter, Kaiya, 13, who helped backstage at the show, along with his son, Evan, 18, and his wife, Amanda.

“My daughter had the best quote of the night. She went up to a couple of the performers and said, ‘You really made me uncomfortable, but I loved it,’” he said.

VAGRANT FEAR SHOWS

What: "The Dark Side of Love: Two short plays"

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16

Where: Ankeny Community Theatre, 1932 SW Third St., Ankeny

Tickets: $15. Available on Midwestix.com or at the door the night of the performance.