Tricks, treats, and trembles in the Cabaret

by Katy Rushlau / Beacon Staff • October 25, 2012

Hauntedhouse joshhamlin
Advertisements for the Asylum are posted around campus.
Courtesy of Joshua Hamlin
Advertisements for the Asylum are posted around campus.
Courtesy of Joshua Hamlin

In the midst of a city that beckons partygoers and trick-or-treaters alike, the horrors of collegiate costumes and dangerous drinking can become a reality for some students on Halloween night.

To provide an alternative option, the Max Mutchnick Campus Center staff is making an effort to bring a night of fright to campus by hosting a new haunted house program. 

“The Asylum: A Halloween Horror Attraction” is based on a 1940s insane asylum, according to Kevin Dwyer, the project leader and a senior performing arts major, who said the attraction depicts a refuge for the criminally insane. 

The idea, according to Dwyer, sparked from a collaboration of campus center staff. The free event, which will be hosted on Oct. 31 from 7-9 p.m., will be set up in the Cabaret. Dwyer said students can participate in guided tours of five to 10 people, beginning in the Little Building lobby. 

Though the specific details of the event are intended to remain a secret, Logistics Coordinator Holly Sverdrup previewed a terrorizing technique, and said that she enjoyed coming up with ideas to frighten attendees. 

“My favorite part of planning this event is getting to use the Cabaret in an unprecedented way,” said the senior performing arts major. “I enjoy the detailed and logistically challenging shifts. [One time] my boss jumped out and scared me during a planning session. I screamed and  wouldn’t move until the lights were turned back on. I’m such a scaredy-cat.”

According to advisor and Assistant Director of the Campus Center Joshua Hamlin, more students are getting involved in numerous ways, either by leading the planning board or serving as actors and volunteers. He explained that the biggest problem is dwindling the larger-than-life ideas down to a feasible vision. 

“[One challenge has been] finding that balance between logistics, grand ideas, and accessibility that will make the attractions interesting and entertaining without going beyond the scope of the event and limitations of the space,” said Hamlin.

Both Dwyer and Hamlin said they hope the event will give them a successful starting point to build from and will grow into an annual, signature scare fest. 

Danny LeMar, a volunteer for the Asylum, explained that there are many alternatives to the drinking and party scene during what he says is his favorite holiday. 

“[When I was younger,] I used to decorate my house to be the wildest on the street, go raid the neighborhoods for candy with my friends, and end the night watching scary movies,” said the sophomore writing, literature, and publishing major. “Here, it’s different but still the same. My suitemates and I have decorated our suite, we went trick - or - treating last year, and then watched a ton of horror movies.”

Andrea Braica, a sophomore communication disorders major, said she thinks celebrating in a city poses some problems and hosting holiday activities on campus is essential. 

“Halloween is kind of different in a city because it’s not really house-to-house trick-or-treating,” said Braica. “[Some] college students use Halloween as an excuse to go out and party, which is definitely a danger, because there will be a lot of people out and the city is practically made up of college students.”

Braica also said she commended the college’s attempt to better market events and offer more exciting alternatives.

“I think that Emerson’s efforts to create more on-campus activities for Halloween has been really great,” she said. “They have definitely been advertising many things in order to get students involved.”