Labyrinth of utter terror: the minotaur comes to campus

by Cathleen Cusachs / Beacon Staff • October 30, 2014

The night before Halloween, the Cabaret will become an ancient Greek maze, with a horrifying twist. The annual Campus Center-sponsored haunted house mimics the Labyrinth this year, a mythical trap containing the half-man, half-bull minotaur.

This is the third year that the Campus Center will host a haunted house at the college. Although those involved had to sign a contract preventing them from revealing details of the attraction, Joshua Hamlin, the director of the Campus Center and the haunted house’s executive producer, said it will focus entirely on Greek mythology.

“[The Minotaur] I can probably safely say you’ll see at some point,” Hamlin said. “There’ll be several different popular or well-known myths represented, as well as several more of the obscure ones.”

Junior Cora Swise, an actress involved in the production, titled Into The Labyrinth, said she appreciates the theme’s creativity. She said that although Greek mythology is not often explored in horror, it fits the genre perfectly.

“When you look at it for what it is, it really kind of is scary,” said Swise, a performing arts major. “You have people who are half-animal, half-person, or people who have curses put on them, or people that are forsworn under the Earth for forever in misery.”

Junior Kieran Collier, the haunted house’s marketing coordinator, said that in choosing a theme, a planning committee considered options that would be reasonable for the space, offer a variety of elements, and engage the audience. The labyrinth fit all of these characteristics.

“We thought it would be really interesting, because the haunted house is structured almost like a labyrinth every year in terms of layout,” said Collier, a writing, literature, and publishing major. “We thought it would translate really well in the Cabaret space.”

Collier, Hamlin, and the event’s page on Facebook emphasize the scare factor involved. On a scale of one to ten, Hamlin ranked some attractions as high as a nine or ten.

“We do scares based on psychological, gross out, and jump scares,” Hamlin said. “Each attraction will touch upon one of those three, or be a combination of one, two, or all three of those elements.”

Swise said her curiosity about the aesthetic of fear drew her to participate in the house.

“I think that there’s a lot to be done with it that people don’t give it credit for,” Swise said. “Beyond horror movies and zombies and that sort of thing, there’s something very interesting and artistic about fear that people don’t really look into.”

Collier and Hamlin said they are taking steps to make sure participants feel safe. Before entering the haunted house, a disclaimer states that loud noises, strobe lights, darkness, and other effects are used. Collier said actors are not allowed to touch observers, and halfway through, the attraction offers an exit for anyone who’s not up for more. Those who choose to exit, Hamlin said, will be guided to a direct escape route.

“At any given point if someone says, ‘I’m done, I can’t do this anymore,’ all of our actors—and we actually have shadows that follow each group—are prepared to be able to give you an exit strategy,” Hamlin said.

The haunted house’s previous two themes were The Asylum, focused on a mental institution, and And They Lived, a retelling of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In this production created by students, for students, Collier said the improvements this year are significant.

“We’ve definitely experimented a lot this year with the layout of the haunted house and the pathways,” Collier said. “I definitely think [the plot] has stepped up its game this year. It’s a more cohesive story.”

The attraction will be open for four hours this year, an hour more than before, to increase turnout from last year’s 300-plus attendees, Hamlin said. This is also the first year organizers have recruited a costume designer and full makeup team and gained off-campus sponsors.  Advanced Lighting and Production Services is assisting with effects.  Boloco has supplied food for the production team and actors.  And Kryolan City is assisting with makeup.

Hamlin said organizers hope to attract students by keeping specifics of the event secret. 

“You can think about the different mythologies, and the myths that are out there, but you’re not going to know what exactly we selected, or how they’re going to be presented to you,” Hamlin said. “The whole thing is a surprise.”