AST puts on a thrilling haunted house for Halloween
On Friday, Oct. 15, I walked to the Village Black Box to attend All Student Theatre’s (AST) fall haunted house. I had never been to a haunted house before — in part because I don’t love scary things, so usually I choose to spare myself the heart palpitations — but AST put on a thrilling event despite the limited size of the Village Black Box.
When my friends and I first arrived at the haunted house we met a girl named Mary, who joined our group because she was there alone and we all love friendship. The premise of the Haunted House is that there was a show called “Cooking With Kids” where a creepy chef and her puppet assistant Kiwi taught “children” from the live studio audience how to make a recipe. The chef made ribs, and after pouring a sauce that looked suspiciously like blood on them she asked Mary to come up as a volunteer from the audience.
When cutting the meal the chef got pretty close to Mary’s fingers and I was sure I knew what was up; she would pretend to cut her, some cheesy fake blood would come out, and we would leave the theatre expected to believe that it was a (lackluster) haunted house. I did not, in fact, know what was up.
The chef sliced into Mary’s arm, making an incredibly realistic cut, and then she was whisked away behind a curtain and our group was instructed to save her. At this moment I realized this was going to be a legitimately haunting experience.
We then walked through the Black Box — where curtains were strategically used to make the space seem much larger than it is — while different actors jumped out of nowhere, covered in fake blood. After I screamed multiple times at the jumpscares, we were led into an “oven” where other victims of the chef told us their horror stories, complete with bloody t-shirts and impeccable scar makeup.
The haunted house marks AST’s first return to live performances since fall of 2019, and it was also the first time they’d done a haunted house. Junior and co-director Leah Coleman said the show was a collaborative, devised theatre production where “every specific thing was come up with by actors.” Coleman is experienced with devised theatre, which she describes as “playwriting and production all together,” and she especially loves the audience interaction that comes along with it.
Because of the nature of devised theatre, it is a great way to introduce newcomers to theatre. Junior and AST president Aiden Stern remarked “It’s exciting to get to see us all back together, in person, doing the stuff we love. There’s nothing better than live theatre, and especially bringing in the non-theatre community into this is just, it’s incredible.” AST haunted house was a truly thrilling return to live theatre, and one that made sure to center collaboration and community.