Local Murder Serves Up Inspiration

It was in the summer of 1926 when it all began. Dr. James Howard Snook, 46, a professor of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University, offered student Theora Hix, 21, a ride back to her dorm. Within weeks they were lovers, and over the next three years they would have trysts all over Columbus, until the fateful day that it all ended in murder. The Hix-Snook case was all the rage in 1929, with details of the affair and murder becoming the stuff of urban legend. And now Columbus playwright Amy Drake has dramatized the story in her play Somewhere I Can Scream, which begins a limited run this weekend in Columbus.

Somewhere I Can Scream was inspired by various references I had heard about the case while growing up in Columbus,” Amy says. “The play grew out of a curiosity to find out if the stories I had heard about the Hix-Snook case really were true. I discovered that the testimony was even more bizarre than the urban legend.”

Amy’s journey to bring this story to the stage began three years ago. She developed it further upon acceptance into the Kenyon College Summer Institute on Playwriting, working closely with mentor Clifford Lee Johnson III, an instructor representing the Manhattan Theater Club. Since then, she has refined the work and presented sections at readings as far west as last weekend in La Jolla, California.

“The script was gleaned from testimony, newspaper, and magazine articles about the case,” Amy says, adding that “although the play is based on real-life events, it is a work of fiction. I had to create dialogue to round out scenes and flesh out characters.”

Photo: Cynthia DeGrand – Kent Halloran as Dr. Snook & Roxy Knepp as Theora Hix
The case was noteworthy for the time in the explicit sexual details divulged during the hearing, much of which wasn’t even able to be printed or hinted at in newspapers of the day. The title Somewhere I Can Scream comes from an alleged quote by Hix concerning where she and Snook should rendezvous, commenting that she preferred to meet “someplace where I can scream.” True to its source, this production comes with the following disclaimer: Due to the explicit sexual nature of the story no one under 18 will be admitted.

“We are obscuring the sexually graphic scenes with set pieces and letting the audience imagine what is happening based on dialogue,” Amy states, but the implication stands that this is an excellent reason to book a babysitter and leave the kiddies at home.

Somewhere I Can Scream will be performed from July 23rd-July 26th in the Van Fleet Theatre within the Columbus Performing Arts Center at 549 Franklin Avenue, and more information can be found at http://drakeorationcompany.com/

******** 7/25/15 update: I saw the play last night. I must now apologize to anyone who read this piece and went to see the play on my recommendation. Here is my review: https://lifefullofcheese.com/2015/07/25/somewhere-i-can-scream-drake-oration-company-columbus-oh/

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