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They say that actors love the limelight. But according to our Production Crew, there is a ghostly presence that regularly returns for the final curtain at The Independent Theatre and this week, it took a starring role at our walk-through Haunted House!
Looking at the distinctive façade of The Independent Theatre, it’s hard to imagine anything scary could happen here, but this week there were bloodcurdling screams galore as Production Crew took Senior School students on a ‘spooktacular’ tour through the bowels of the building.
Production Crew is a group of Senior School students across the year groups, who operate the lighting, sound and stage management for all Wenona’s performances under the guidance of Theatre Manager, Ms Fenella Jolly. And the Haunted House is their brainchild. “It was an initiative that Production Crew started last year. It has been a wonderful chance for them to show off their skills in front of the School, instead of out of sight,” says Ms Jolly.
Madeleine, Rachel, Jennifer, Kya and Kirsten are all in Year 10 and are Production Crew stalwarts. They’ve been involved since Year 9 and say that in the thespian world, they are “the more reserved.” Madeleine was apparently the inspiration for the rest of the girls to “go to the dark side”, although Rachel, who is regularly on stage playing piano and percussion in the School’s ensembles and orchestra, says that technically, she has “gone to the grey side!”
As part of the Production Crew, the girls have enjoyed working on productions like Much Ado About Nothing, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Ensembles concerts, orchestras and helping behind the scenes at Theatresports. But they’ve also enjoyed learning about The Independent Theatre’s history. And the stories of ghosts entwined throughout its past, have formed the inspiration for their Haunted House, which apparently was so scary last year, it even caused the boys to scream at the Prefects’ Afternoon Tea!
“We’ve learnt a lot about the theatre’s past. The ghost behind the curtains, the tram conductor who quite literally lost his mind and Doris (a reference to the theatre’s former owner, Doris Fitton),” says Madeleine. “There are so many stories in this building.”
Sure enough, there were plenty of gasps, giggles and screams from the groups of students queuing up at lunchtime. And that was even before they’d set foot inside the Haunted House.
And it didn’t disappoint. As groups stepped into the pitch blackness, shadowy presences in the wings, glimpses of long-dead performers in the Green Room and ghosts and ghouls in the stalls had them jumping and yelling in fright, aided and abetted by plenty of sound and lighting trickery. The students even screamed when they spotted Ms Jalili, who was innocently supervising proceedings from the side of the stage!
History is littered with stories of phantoms glimpsed in the orchestra stalls or on-stage presences felt but unseen. Production Crew’s Haunted House brings it all to life.
This afternoon, our prefects and their guests will have an opportunity to test their mettle when they visit the Haunted House as part of this year’s Prefects’ Afternoon Tea. Enter if you dare…..