Halloween With The Family. Dead Or Alive, You WILL Be There!
Historically the 18th and early 19th century saw the rise of Spiritism. Whether this was because of the 'Age of Enlightenment', the '2nd Reformation' or just because...well, we had nothing better to do after the Rev. War (well, except for that little scirrmish in Canada. And the one in Tripoll. There was also the Franco one which noone remembers, the Creek wars, a few Indian scrapes, Texas Independance, but who's counting?)
Anyway, enter the beginning of Halloween as a festival for the family. Because they weren't celebrating spirits or death or whatever, mostly it was a fall harvest festival. And without going into a dissertation on the what, how and why, let me just say that it became a pretty good reason for entertainers to grab a few extra gigs before the Thanksgiving lull and the Christmas rush. Besides, it's not like the entertainers were going on all these military adventures! (Well, except for the 'Minstrel Boy' of song ballad fame. And look how THAT turned out for him!)
So for the first time EVER in 2012 at the Living History Park in North Augusta, we turned our attention to this prime opportunity that we have so long overlooked.
Stage setup in the barn at the Living History Park, North Augusta, South Carolina
Eric and Susan Scites
Our premise was simple. Put together a show that included the classics of the time-spirit cabinet, suspensions, mentalism, spirit writing, telekenesis. Oh, and we blew up a pumpkin too...
I actually stole this picture from James Songster...
Susan in the Spirit Cabinet
On the left, Susan in the Spirit Cabinet preparing to be the 'medium'. On the right, to prove that she could NOT be the one ringing the bell, playing the instrument, etc. 2 members of the audience were invited up, handed cuffs, 4 locks and 25 feet of chain. All to prove that she COULD not move.
Oh, and speaking of which, if you are ever in North Augusta, S.C., stop in the barn and see if she's still mad at me for losing the keys? Thanks!
We did this show unlike any we have ever done before, using things we had never tried. It was not a comedy show, and we were very explicit to say that-even tho it wasn't 'scary'-it wasn't designed for small children either. Our goal was to produce a show that was similar to the early parlor shows. Creepy, eerie, but not necessarily 'spooky'. And the premise? The entire audience is invited to ask themselves one simple question. Being Halloween, is it the spirits that we attempt to control, or the power of our own minds we attempt to tap into?
And as one group was over heard as they were leaving 'wow...that really weirded me out..." "...she really was locked in tight..." "how did he get the card on the chalkboard with the kid holding it..."
We'll call this one a success.
A suspension of disbelief or a suspension of a beautiful woman? you decide. Just don't let the suspense build!