“Satanarium” Spooks at Collingwood: Glacity Theatre Collective creates immersive horror for HalloweenWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Theater can provoke a myriad of emotions from its audience. It can inspire laughter, tears, provoke a new way of thinking about the world, instill joy or anger. And sometimes — just sometimes — it can scare the living daylights out of you.
For the second October in a row, members of Toledo’s own Glacity Theatre Collective (the GTC) are hoping to inspire the latter emotion in those who attend their latest creation. “The Satanarium,” billed as an “Immersive Horror Performance,” will take place every Friday through Sunday beginning on October 17 in the basement of the legendary Collingwood Arts Center.
“‘The Satanarium’ consists of a group of women who seek to spiritually awaken outsiders through the guise of a sanitarium,” said Megan Aherne, co-writer/director of the piece and Assistant Artistic Director of the GTC, in an interview with Toledo Free Press.
“It is unclear whether they are really nurses, doctors, or even patients themselves. These women encourage their visitors to appreciate and accept the existence of the dark forces that they worship, by exposing them to their ritualistic ways. Audiences are taken on a ‘tour’ of the Sisters’ practices as they are guided through the space at the Collingwood.”
This is the GTC’s second excursion into tales of immersive terror. Last year the group presented “For the Devil Tells Me So,” also co-written and directed by Aherne, an experience chronicling a young woman’s demonic possession. So wildly successful was the piece that the group began planning this year’s show almost immediately after the first one ended.
“After ‘For The Devil’ we felt that we should have gone bigger–that seemed to have been the lesson learned,” Aherne said. “Every show sold out, we even had to add performances and it received excellent reviews from those that attended.
“After working with the T-Town Tassels this summer and seeing what the CAC was trying to accomplish, I knew I wanted to have this year’s horror show in that building. I took a tour of the space and found, what I think to be, the perfect area for an immersive horror performance.”
The bowels of the Collingwood certainly fit the bill as a creepy setting for terror. Aherne noted how the show — just like “For the Devil” — was constructed to fit and compliment the space.
“Any script begins with an idea, which Ed Lingan and I came up with after watching an old 1970s horror flick called ‘Don’t Look In The Basement.’ When we found the space in which we wanted to perform, that’s when the writing began.
“When writing this type of play, it is essential to understand the way your space functions, as the audience doesn’t just sit in one spot and watch, they follow the action throughout the space. I used this same method when writing ‘For The Devil’ — I wrote the outline for the play, based on the space in which we were performing. So really, first I considered the space, then how the audience is going to move, then we filled in the plot from there.”
Of course, the legends and ghost stories surrounding the Collingwood don’t exactly hurt the production. Aherne noted how she and her co-author were unaware of such tales when they were creating the performance, but they certainly add a whole new level to the atmosphere their work will create.
“For the audience it’s not so much about taking in information as it is about sharing a piece of the experience — which was something taken into consideration in not just the directing, but also in the writing of the piece,” Aherne said. “The structure of this performance is similar to that of a haunted house, but there is a storyline and a clear divide between acting and audience arenas — however that barrier can and will be broken here and there.”
No matter what draws the audience into “Satanarium,” however, Aherne stated that her hopes are that the experience proves a positive one for all involved — attendees, her theater company, and the historic building which will house the horror.
“For me, it is vital that this plays draws attention and raises funds for the CAC. It is a beautiful building with so much potential and faith in our artistic community — I am happy to be a small part in its revitalization — [as well as] similar sentiments, different contexts for Glacity Theatre Collective. I’d love to see our company have a stronger presence on the map of Toledo theatre.”
For more information on “Satanarium” and the Glacity Theatre Collective, visit www.glacity.org.