Nearly 40 years ago, I'm sorry to say, my friend and I won "Best Room in the House" for our portrayal of The Pit & the Pendulum in the KJR-Variety Club Haunted House in Seattle. We got a huge trophy. This was a big deal because that was Seattle and we were from a small, and I mean tiny, rural school. Nikolski has more students than my high school. So when I brag about graduating third highest in my class, please take it with a grain of salt. I could have done better had I applied myself.
We drove the hour to Seattle, every night for fourteen days, to staff our room; we learned so much about theater and acting and presentation, as well as actor's pay, which consists of a hot dog and a coke at the mid-shift break. We filled in for other actors in other rooms during our "mandated breaks." I fell in love at least three times during those two weeks.
Don't worry, I didn't give up my virtue during the run, not that someone didn't try. The after-party was spectacular, amazing, wow, I can't believe it to this day, because there were some locally famous actors in attendance and we were, well, part and parcel, equals, one of the crew, teammates. Good stuff.
Haunted House and Halloween, a Tradition for years and years, and we were part of it, one high school of many King County theater students invited to participate in the 40 rooms of scariness. Just thinking about it, the images and smells, darkness and play, pop out of the maze of rooms still in my head; the many players, all that behind the scenes, the make-up, fake blood, the tricks we were taught to make the magic.
We were bold and independent teenagers to go: his parents were very religious so did not want him to participate in spite of the theatrical opportunity, and my mother did not want me to do anything ever at all. I exaggerate, but that's what it seemed like - but my dad gave me permission from his hospital bed; he had been in a terrible, fatal three-car accident only weeks before.
My tall, dark and bearded friend Lloyd was the Executioner, and I was the Damsel in Distress whose gut instincts were revealed in her screams by the descending blade. Was this an Edgar Allan Poe story? Ah, yes, written in 1842 using a true story, using some historical license.
We took license, too, since I was a lovely, busty, long-haired teenager, struggling against a swinging scythe hung from the ceiling, not a man suffering at the hands of the Spanish Inquisitors trying to avoid slipping into a pit, the red-hot walls closing in, rats chewing his binds, not to mention a pendulum blade slowly dropping from whence he could not see.
Did I say we won a huge trophy?
The principal of our school had to talk fast to convince us to let him put our trophy in the main-hall case, back in reality, back at school, at the end of our long haul, our huge commitment, our successful run. The case was full of sports awards, none before gotten due to other academic achievements, not even theater. We finally relented to let him display the trophy, because Lloyd and I had the vision to see that we it was better to share the victory than give in to desire to hoard it.