Halloween (October 2008)

In the sort of moment I had only daydreamed about.  A woman I didn’t know was  running across the BCC auditorium saying: “Hey, you guys are Main Street Stage?  I’ve heard all about you and have been meaning to track you down.”

The woman was Juliana.  The project was a Halloween show in the old graveyard in Williamstown.  She needed actors for the graveyard tour, but more than that, she needed someone to write and produce a show in the chapel and heard we might be the folks for the project.

A couple weeks later, I piled most of the Redroom writers and a few others into a car and we got a tour of the chapel and did some brainstorming for plots.  An evil wedding?  Some sort of historical piece?  A town meeting?  We wandered around, found a secret passage, discovered the old town morgue, played around with the organ and had a good time.  Eventually, we decided that the story should be a presentation on local ghosts that is interrupted by ghosts, of course.  We made a couple more trips backs with various people in tow, including some MCLA students, to plan special effects.  I wanted them to all be created in the space, especially the noises.  Prerecorded sounds just weren’t going to cut it.

Here’s the story.  Penny tours around giving her lecture on local ghosts.  She had an encounter in the Houghton Mansion as a child.  Her friend, Maxine, fancies herself a paranormal investigator and often crashes Penny’s presentations.  Of course, on this night, the women have stumbled into an actual haunted place and everything falls apart in a cacphony of ghost noises and a blackout at the end.

I spent many delightful hours reading up on local ghosts late into the night  and scaring myself.  (Incidentally, here’s a link to a great blog on the topic if you’re interested). We had also decided that one of our characters was a ghost hunter, so I called up the local ghost hunting team, Berkshire Paranormal Group, to get a sense of what kind of equipment the character would have and what sort of language she’d use.  I even spent a long, dark evening in the chapel with the Berkshire Paranormal Group doing an investigation of the chapel.

Then things started to go wrong.  Although the event had been approved by the town council and had been in the works for the better part of  a year, about a month before Halloween some residents of Williamstown got wind of it and objected strongly to theatrics taking place in a graveyard, on hallowed ground, as it were.  What followed was weeks worth of nasty letters to the editor (and even worse comments on the online Transcript comment sections below said letters) and a heated town council meeting.  While the project moved ahead as planned, it was  not without an emotional cost to the main planners.

But the day came and, except for it being bitterly cold, we had two nights of good attendence and great fun.

The Halloween event will be in the basement of the Milne library this year and Main Street Stage will be there!

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