“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our lives are rounded with a little sleep.”
This quote from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” was the tagline for this year’s Stage Fright, the annual haunted house presented by Alpha Psi Omega and the Schuster Theatre. The theme this year was dreams, which are often far scarier than anything real life conjures.
I have been involved with Stage Fright all four years that I have attended Gannon, from a performer my first year, to the leader as a sophomore (When we made over $400!) and being on the committee for my junior year (When we made even more money!). Unfortunately, I was not as involved this year due to other commitments. Nevertheless, it made me happy to know that even after I graduate there will still be students making Stage Fright successful.
Stage Fright was no small feat – the entire Schuster Theatre was transformed into a haunted house. It was an experience and challenge unlike anything we usually do, for both performers and audience.
Those who attended were not only treated to an experience of an amazingly frightening caliber, but they saw parts of the theatre they may never go into again. Stage Fright went backstage through dressing rooms, into the stage area, down through the lobby and costume garage and down further still into the very depths of the basement. It was the same building many students and teachers have class and work in every day, but completely converted.
The performers included many members of Alpha Psi Omega, but also students just interested in the haunted house experience as well. In many ways, a haunted house involves skills required for theatre: set building, good makeup and costume design, staying in character, etc. But it also required a whole new way of performing. There was vaguely a script, and interaction with the audience happened on a very personal level. The actors had to think less about who their character and what their environment were, and more about what was going on inside the audience’s head, and how to get inside it.
Maybe this is why I’ve loved Stage Fright for so many years; it’s the perfect intersection of theatre and psychology. Although I am moving on after this year, (to grad school, not the afterlife) I know the spirit will live on in the actors who remain – and maybe in the building itself.