Unless you are one of those people who really believe in ghosts, we all have to suspend some portion of what we really believe during Halloween season, the better to enjoy the attempts by professionals and amateurs alike to scare us with tales of the dead and their spirits — and the role they may play in the lives of the living.
Therefore, if you really want to enjoy the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council’s production of “Victorian Tales of Terror” I suggest you bring along some impressionable youngsters and your imagination for a nice walk around St. James Court with some frightening characters. And I don’t mean the real residents of Old Louisville, who looked on at last night’s dress rehearsal with a bit of wonderment.
Our guide introduced himself, in an odd English accent, as Perry Hauter, “a medium from the English countryside whose gift sometimes innocently leads others into utter darkness.” He was played by media veteran Joseph Grove, surprisingly enough, who managed to guide our group through a series of theatrical experiences inspired by legends with a dash of good humor.
At the famed Conrad-Caldwell House, we were greeted by Caldwell, I think, who introduced a dramatic story that his cohort’s ghost still walks the property.
It was all in good fun, and made for a wonderful evening.
HERE’S THE OFFICIAL SCOOP ON THE EVENT, PLAYING THROUGH OCTOBER 18.
The Old Louisville Neighborhood Council is bringing Louisvillians a unique way to experience our storied history with the “Victorian Tales of Terror”, 7-9 p.m. October 15-18. Part outdoor theater and part walking tour, this Halloween-themed event presents ghostly scenes (some based on historical events) set against the spooky environment of the 130-year old Victorian neighborhood at night. It’s the perfect event for theater enthusiasts, history buffs and those looking for an old-fashioned Halloween scare.
“When people think of the Victorian era its common to note elaborate homes and a rigid, stratified society” said Daniel Gatlin, author and actor in “Victorian Tales of Terror.” “But what they may not know is that the Victorians were also interested in forms of divination such as astrology, crystal gazing and phrenology. This was also the period when the religion of “Spiritualism” was at its height and contacting the dead through mediums at séances was a common social activity.”
The Victorian period acts as the setting for “Victorian Tales of Terror” where guests are guided by “mediums” who manifest, through their psychic gifts, the characters and stories they’ll encounter as they travel through the neighborhood. The “mediums” are actually actors portraying members of the “Society of the Unseen Hand,” which was an organization of Spiritualists and paranormal investigators founded in Louisville in 1900 and headed by Professor Damon Aldridge, a medium and inventor in his own right, who will act as your host.
Each tour lasts 45-60 minutes and consists of numerous stops, where guests will interact with characters presenting stories of hauntings, murder and mayhem. Several of the stories incorporate characters from Penny Dreadfuls, popular Victorian pulp fictions of the time, as well as drawing on local history. Because of the nature of some of the events portrayed, “Victorian Tales of Terror” isn’t suitable for small children, but is just what for those looking to get into the Halloween spirit are looking for.
“We’re thrilled to have had the chance to put together this exciting piece of environmental theater,” said co-writer and director, Chazz Petersen. “Bringing all the elements together has been hard work, but with our talented actors and dedicated volunteers I believe we’ve created a unique experience that truly takes you back in time.”
Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online at oldlouisville.org/victorian-tales-of-terror. Tour groups are limited to 30 audience members in order to preserve the event’s spooky atmosphere; walk-ins are accommodated where availability permits. Tours run from 7-9 p.m., October 15-18. Guests should book their tickets as soon as possible. Event t-shirts and refreshments will be available for purchase before and after the event at the Historic Old Louisville Neighborhood and Visitors Center. There will also be fortune tellers and a photo location for some added Halloween fun.
The “Victorian Tales of Terror” is 100% volunteer-produced, so all proceeds benefit the beautification and restoration efforts of the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council and future neighborhood-sponsored events.