On October 26, my high school's drama club put on a haunted house. I was there. Invisible.
Last weekend, I grew my wings and learned to fly. The world sparkled and shone, dreams and nightmares came to life, beautifully tangible, riding on waves of joyous anticipation.
This is, for the unacquainted, the world of Theatre.
Just two weeks ago, I would never have expected I would be spending a total of sixteen hours inside the theatre building on my high school campus on a weekend. But on Monday—I guess it must have been the 21st of October—I found myself walking up the stairs to my first class of the day with N., and he asked me a simple question that changed all of my nonexistent weekend plans.
For those who have not read my neglected diary, entitled “Say What?”, N. is my closest male friend, an adorably hilarious boy who is liable to break into song at any given moment. He is also one of the officers of the high school drama club.
“You know about the haunted house this weekend, right?” he asked me.
Yes; he had, after all, been posting about it on Facebook twice a day for the past few days, asking people to come.
“Well, we’re short a few people,” he continued. “Would you like to help out?”
My answer to that was a resounding “YES.”
This was how I came to be back at school at six o’ clock on a Friday night. Time to set up the haunted house.
The thirty-some-odd students involved in the production were all in small groups. Each group was responsible for a “room”, and each room would be in the theme of a different horror movie. I was in the Woman in Black room. I was to make a piano play without anyone pressing down the keys, make a rocking chair rock, and make a curtain fall down to reveal the message “YOU COULD HAVE SAVED THEM,” written in red paint on the wall. In other words, puppeteering. Spell-check claims that this is not a word. I beg to differ.
We set it up like a child’s bedroom, with a bed on one side, and toys and dolls scattered through out. Battery operated candles were placed on every spare surface, and framed black-and-white photos of people with whited-out eyes adorned the walls. We found a bookcase backstage and plenty of old-style books that had fabric covers. Most of them contained Shakespeare plays. One of the members of our group, a girl named R. (who is in choir with me), painted the message on the black wall above the bookcase. With some help, I attached black thread to the levers inside the upright piano and threaded them through the back. N. stopped by to show me the wonders of gaff tape, which I then used in rigging up the rocking chair so I could make it rock from ten feet away.
There was more trouble with the curtain than anything else. Either it would stay up no matter how hard I tugged on the fishing line, or it would fall when it wasn’t supposed to. Several of my group members tried to help to make it work, but to no avail. About fifteen minutes before the start of the first rehearsal run-through, J., N.’s boyfriend, stopped by to see how things were going.
“Yeah, do you have any idea how to get this thing to fall when I want it to?”
We tried various strategies. None of them worked. And—
“Oh, shit,” J. mumbled. “I broke the fishing line.”
We redid the fishing line, tying it to a different part of the lace, and stuck the curtain back on the tape.
One of the other officers shouted from the other side of the black box theatre. “We’re meeting in the house in five minutes! Five minutes to run!”
We decided to leave the curtain as it was and hope it would function properly when the time came. Then we all made our way to the auditorium.
That was when the real adventure began.