So, how many people you know where you live or work dressed up for Halloween today? Well, at least in the department where I work, the number of people who did dress up was in the… wait for it… upper single digits at best. I didn’t figure out an exact number… nor could I because I was away from our floor and in training literally all day. Of the few get-ups I did catch a glimpse of, one lady was dressed up as the bus from the Magic School Bus books and TV series, complete with a smile that certainly grew bigger by the end of the day when she won 2nd place in the company-wide costume contest. It was impressive that she didn’t go as your usual princess or witch or whatever. Chalk one up for originality.
I won’t go any further about costumes, other than to say that there were a few nice celebrity costumes in this link on the TVLine.com website. Yes, the gallery features a few obvious choices, including superheroes, super villains, and cartoon characters (from Katharine McPhee as Harley Quinn to Alyssa Milano and her two children as Pokemon characters (that trio is my personal favorite from the gallery). Fair warning when you see Colton Haynes’ costume, however; I’ll just say he doesn’t match the original Miss Piggy and leave it at that. (#Yikes!)
One last Halloween-related link to share and I’ll put the holiday to rest for good (until next year, at least): When I was 9 years old, I helped out some of my 4th grade classmates in our elementary school’s “haunted house.” Well, I set off “haunted house” in quotes there as it was actually a secondary foyer between the gymnasium and library, with dark blue crepe paper covering the windows, black yarn for “cobwebs,” and the faces of my classmates and I caked with makeup to appear as various “ghosts” and “spirits” and making “spooky sounds” (note the air quotes there). But, hey, if it gave the kids a gentle “scare” or two, the cost and effort were worth it.
While all we had to do in that haunted house was make “spooky sounds” at the kids and maybe bang a couple of pots and pans for effect, we never had to delve into any method acting. Method acting in a haunted house, you ask? Before we delve into that let’s give a layman’s definition of the term: Method acting is the name for techniques actors use to bring real, sincere, and emotional depth to the characters they are tasked to inhabit. Such techniques may include conjuring up experienced emotions, thinking of “as if” scenarios, and sometimes but not always living as their character off-stage. Whatever techniques are used helps the actor formulate a more perfect, more honest portrayal of their character.
Like you, I never considered method acting as a necessary part of helping to create a haunted house, haunted hayride, or whatever haunted attraction may have been in your neighborhood this Halloween season. Which is why this report I heard during NPR’s Weekend Edition on Sunday piqued my interest. The report featured an interview with a New Hampshire actor named Bil Duchesneau, who’s been what the reporter calls a “professional haunter” for 15 years. Let the reporter explain:
“This is not a matter of slapping on some zombie makeup. Duchesneau will develop his character’s look, backstory, motivation. He’s been a voodoo priest, a demon biker, [and] a demented surgeon.”
Yeah, pretty weird, huh? The guy even provides instruction to his fellow “professional haunters” at their attraction. And Mr. Duchesneau and his fellow practitioners go all-out, from creating a backstory to picking out character names and assembling costumes and suitable accoutrements. Simply put, they’re not working some grade-school “haunted house” by any means, and they need to look and act the part.
A confession: I don’t get very much into haunted houses/hayrides/etc. just as I don’t get very much into dressing up for Halloween. I mean, I can be scared very easily, terrified even. But kudos to the Bil Duchesneaus of the world for at least putting their heart and soul into giving the paying customers a scary good time. If they can put that good of an effort during October, it makes you wonder what other acting skills they utilize the other 11 months of the year. Maybe even a portrayal of Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire that would make Marlon Brando jealous. (“Hey, Stella-a-a-a-a!!”)