Photos by David Rickerby.
The Providence Improv Guild is back with more spooky, interactive improvisation this Halloween season.
Last year’s “Redrum Reunion” brought audience members through the bowels of the Southside Cultural Center, where they met ghouls, ghosts and lots of terrific suspense.
This year they’re staging “Redrum: Oath,” a similarly structured show about a bizarre cult called the Pilgrims of the Oath. P.I.G. bills it as an “improvised and interactive psychological thriller” that gives audiences “a very different creepy and suspenseful show each night.”
“We have this huge space that we want to take advantage of for its inherent spookiness and put up an interactive and really scary show but also play up the improvisational aspect of it,” said co-director Tom Rajt. “It took a lot negotiating in order to come up with a coherent show that brought together all those things. But, it ended up being really successful.”
Each night the cast splits up, venturing into separate rooms of the Cultural Center. Audience members are invited to follow them, wherever they please, to watch each improvised scene unfold.
“One of the really fun parts is the sense of discovery, of getting to find something,” said co-director Eric Fulford. “The audience finds something with the performers and there is this idea that we are all in it together.”
Rajt says the show is less about blood and guts and gore, and more about creating a haunting experience for audience members.
“We’re doing a lot more with atmosphere and with the way that recognizably human characters interact,” he said. “I think that can create a more sophisticated and ultimately more compelling show, as opposed to a typical haunted house.”
“It’s certainly more about the sense of dread,” he said. “When I was little, my uncle Keith Munslow [musician, storyteller, improviser, and director of the monthly Empire Revue], and I used to do haunted houses together. One of the first things he taught me is that it’s way scarier to just be unsettling than it is to jump out at someone. Because, once you’ve jumped out at someone and said, ‘Boo!’ and they got scared, you’re just stuck there looking silly. They have time to get over that fear. But, if you say nothing and create a sense of creepiness that follows them for three blocks after they’ve left the haunted house—that leaves an impression on them.”
Providence Improv Guild’s “Redrum: Oath” runs now through Halloween at the Southside Culuture Center on Broad Street in Providence. More information and tickets are available at www.ImprovPIG.com and redrumoath.bpt.me. Each performance lasts approximately an hour. Due to the nature of improvised theater, parental discretion is advised.