Down the Rabbit Hole with Hatter99

by on Jul.19, 2011, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Rotting Flesh Radio | Go to Original Post

by: RFR Casket Crew Hatter 99

Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole

On Friday as I was driving home from work in Ohio, I happened to glance out my window and beheld a beautiful sight…a vast field of little cornstalks, swaying lightly in the breeze as they reached upward toward the clear blue sky, anchored in the far distance by a creepy white farmhouse surely crawling with zombies…Oh, how I wanted to climb out of my car, frolic through the field, and join them in their carnivorous feast.  But no, I thought.  I must wait.  In two months the harvest will be MUCH sweeter.

I’m Hatter99 (aka Josh), a newly-inducted member of the Haunt industry as of Fall 2010 when I embarked on the glorious world of scareacting.  The thrill of the scare latched onto my heart like a bloodsucking leach and drew me into the exciting Haunt community, anchored by killer conventions, a plethora of media resources, and a close-knit community of haunters who truly love what they do.  Now I’m honored to be sharing my thoughts on the RFR blog.  For me, the facets of the Haunt industry (and all things macabre and mysterious) are an escape into a world of dark wonder where nothing is as it seems.  Reality is a nice place to be sometimes, but occasionally it’s nice to shake things up a bit…read a creepy book, research a mysterious cryptid, watch a mind-bending movie or TV show, or put on some makeup and a neat hat and scare the bodily fluids out of people.  (That last one only really works well around Halloweentime; the mall cops don’t really appreciate it the rest of the year when I jump out of the rack at Victoria’s Secret at timid guys who are discreetly shopping for nighties…for their wives, they claim.)

Haunt Actor Shawn from Terror on the Fox

Haunt Actor Shawn from Terror on the Fox

So, when I want to step through the looking-glass and explore my own wonderland I choose one of the aforementioned activities, among other things, and that’s what I plan as the major basis for my posts, exploring the ways that I fill that deeply-rooted need for dark amusement.  In exploring those interests I’ll also be reflecting on my experiences as a newbie in the Haunt industry, offering my thoughts and soliciting input from others so that I can learn how to better build that alternate reality for myself and for those whom I am scaring.  The more convincing the experience, the more satisfying the adventure for both the haunters and the hauntees.  Ready?

Hat ON.

As we’re all gearing up for the Haunt season, I’d like to mention to all those Haunt operators out there how important it is to me as an actor to have some type of theme/backstory for the Haunt that all of the actors are aware of, whether it’s a story for a particular room if your Haunt switches themes from one room to the next or a universal theme that works through the entire Haunt.  

This Haunt Actor is Ready for some Killer Kisses at Scarehouse

This Haunt Actor is Ready for some Killer Kisses at Scarehouse

Of course it’s important to make the audience aware of that theme as well, but it’s just as important to get the actors on the same page.  If we’re inserted into a spooky environment, given a costume, and told to “Be scary,” the Haunt experience is going to fall apart.  Some actors might be telling guests to “Get out,” while others might be telling them to “Stay for dinner.”  You might have one actor speaking in an American accent and another with a British accent, with a hillbilly thrown in for good measure.  
Unless it’s your own twisted little version of the “It’s a Small World” ride (which is totally creepy, by the way), then the theme of the Haunt becomes broken, and the atmosphere’s scare factor diminishes, leaving the onus on the actor to make up that difference.  Sure we’ll get some scares, but it could have been much more intense had we all been briefed on what our story was.  And if the atmosphere becomes too broken, the scares are next to impossible for us to extract from the guests.  And I know that my energy comes from seeing someone jump, or hearing the screams.  If I can’t get that reaction due to a broken atmosphere, then after an hour my energy is drained, and I feel like I’ve failed.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  We actors are creative.  We can fill in the gaps, and we certainly don’t want to be handed our lines, but the key is to have a brief understanding as to why we’re in the environment that we’re in.  Maybe a bunch of spooks have come to collect Granny in exchange for a deal that she made fifty years ago.  Or maybe your house was a bed and breakfast where the proprietor had a bit too much demented fun with the guests.  What’s your setting?  Are you in the South?  London?  The backwoods?  Are you in this century?  It can be a short and sweet little idea, and you might be surprised how much energy your actors can extract from that little spark.  Having that small understanding between the designers of the Haunt and its actors can work beautifully in creating a coherent, ominous atmosphere that is amplified by the actors who can now work together toward a common goal.  It makes a world of difference for me as an actor, and it could make a world of difference for your Haunt.

What do you think?  Have any Haunt operators out there found success in NOT providing a theme to the actors?  Do any actors out there enjoy NOT having a theme?  Chime in.

Hat OFF.

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