Don’t expect any bone-chilling screams, but be ready for a haunting challenge to the psyche as Elevator Projects opens its Asylum in time for Halloween.
The Oct. 30 fundraising event is a combination of interactive theater and Halloween party at The Walls Project Art & Design Center in the Chase Tower, with all proceeds benefitting the Elevator Projects’ operational costs and programming, including the beginning of its new literary series on Nov. 3 in the design center.
“It’s a different way to spend Halloween,” says Michele Guidry, vice president of Elevator Projects’ board of directors. “You may have already gone to the haunted house and are looking for something different.”
Asylum will offer a series of performance art vignettes, which take a look at life in the 1950s. The clothes, the hair, the plight of the perfect housewife and the mind-set of the ear will be explored in scenarios by Bang Bang You’re Dead Theatre.
“These are devised performances with all of them being variations on a theme,” says Neal Hebert, the theater company’s artistic director. “We’ll even have one room where it’s like the voices are in your head. It’s all about the individual experience.”
And though some experiences may play with your mind, no one will be jumping out from behind walls.
“No one will be trying to scare anyone,” Guidry says. “And if you don’t want to walk through the rooms of the Asylum, you can just enjoy the food and drinks and talk to the other people who are there. It’s really a Halloween party.”
Elevator Projects first presented its Asylum two years ago in the then-vacant 28,000-square-foot warehouse that now houses the collection of creative businesses known as 1010 NIC.
“Nothing was in that building when we did this,” says project designer Stephanie Landry. “Now it’s filled with businesses. We like setting up events in empty spaces to show their potential.”
Ticket holders, called asylum patients, are asked to dress in 1950s attire.
“Time Warp is offering a 50 percent discount for anyone mentioning Elevator Projects while looking for vintage clothing for Asylum,” Guidry says. “If you are going to or coming from another event where you will be wearing a Halloween costume, that’s fine, too. We’d just like everyone to dress up.”
Elevator Projects has covered the design center’s window to avoid revealing all of its surprises. The idea for immersive theater is a concept growing in popularity in New York and Philadelphia.
“When (Elevator Projects creative director) Raina (Wirta) told me what they were going to do, I knew this was the perfect fit for our theater company,” Hebert says. “A lot of our actors have experience in devised theater.”
“Most of the actors are graduates of the LSU Department of Theatre,” Guidry says. “And Theatre Baton Rouge has donated costumes and props. Think of it as living paintings or paintings that are coming to life in front of you,” Guidry says.
Wirta described the experience as “a scripted culmination of Creative Writers Circle workshops and a collective writing beta-program for the nonprofit,” all coming together to create “an artist-interpreted ward for the insane.”
“We always do this around Halloween, but it never involves blood and gore,” Guidry says. “It’s not scary, but it’s designed to disturb, because it’s all about the psyche.”