In pursuit of another journey to South America working and saving has taken over my life and I haven’t danced since July! What horror! Am I losing my way?! Despite a daily morning stretch routine and lots of walking my body feels like a concertina, compressed and stiff.
Just when I begin to feel ever more disillusioned I meet Greta and she tells me all about ‘Scare Acting’ for a Halloween event called Primevil.
“You’re paid to run around at night writhing, convulsing and springing out on the roaming audience. It’s very physical” she tells me. Physical is what I yearn for – I need no more convincing.
Primevil takes place over 3 weeks in the middle of the Norfolk countryside. Groups of actors inhabit various themed spots in the woods and all are briefed to scare the living be-geezus out of the curious punters.
I apply and go through auditions, casting and training in advance of the official opening. A fabulous professional scare actress by the name of Rosie leads us through physical theatre games during one training session. Through our bodies we morph from human to zombie to rabid animal to amoeba flinching on the floor. It’s brilliant fun!
I’m assigned to Street Crew, a team who entertain those queueing up for the different attractions. It’s all improvisation, developing a character and seeing how he/she/it evolves through the night. This is wonderful! I’m being paid to explore street theatre with an open brief…few restrictions. Maintaining stamina during a 6 hour shift by: “bottomline: always staying in character” is taking me out of my comfort zone.Air Hostess by day, evil Clown by night
Inspiration kicks in and I debut as Peach the Clown, a twerking ‘quirking’ hula hooping wanderer with a shrill voice. Feedback from those I pester is that I’m more funny than scary! Scaring doesn’t come naturally to me but Silly it would appear does. I partner up with ‘Cuddles’ my Clown sibling, or in real life: Kay, an air hostess.
“Clowns aren’t creepy enough”
The following night I’m asked to dress as a Zombie. The management team have decided that Clowns are not sufficiently disturbing for queue scaring. I rummage through the dressing up boxes and emerge in a new incarnation: Bartholemew a lisping Cub Scout. Bartholemew’s character develops over the next few nights and I grow to love him.
I sing arpeggios and encourage the queue to join in (Singing badge). I carry a rubber severed arm and squeak that this is the remaining body part of my mother (who I’ve eaten for my Butchery badge).
I’m a demented Oliver Twist.
I marvel at the bobbles of bobble hats and offer people ‘crisps’ in the form of dirty Autumn leaves. I do ‘expressive dance’ whilst spasming occasionally all in aid of earning my Dance badge. Again – visitor feedback is that I’m sweet rather than scary and some ask if they can take me home, ha! I’m delighted!
As Primevil continues I work in other guises too: as an Undertaker…..a Cabaret singing Scarecrow along with Greta. We work from the ‘Forest of Fear’ leaping out from the trees ‘jump scaring’. I also adopt the angst of a doomed patient at zombie infested Zone 64 medical unit twitching and warning innocent visitors to “stay clooooooose”.
All in all what better way to while away those October evenings (dancing in the conventional sense, aside)? My Primevil experience was invigorating and blew those cobwebs away.