You are in an intimate, four by four room. An old woman, with a pale, ghostly complexion is narrating a haunted story about a remote, dimly lit alley. A howling, ghastly looking creature forms the crux of her story. Tick, tock, tick, tock; sweat beads trickle down your spine, in a surprisingly comfortably air-conditioned room. The presence of a familiar face, next to you, is unable to ease your pounding heart. You clutch your seat and hold on for your dear life, on the verge of breaking into paranoia and hysteria.
Yet, you know at the back of your mind that this is nothing but a film, it has been crafted, the story is fictitious, the ‘fear factor’ is on a screen; it is reel not real.
There’s still a sense of safety- a 4th wall that stands tall. The trainers haven’t quite come off….
Now rewind, and imagine for a second that all of this is real. The stories and what’s being narrated to you is a real experience. Not fiction.
The person sits there blank and gives you a first hand account of the gruesome reality he faced.
Oh yes, it happened!
Having lost his ability to reason with his surroundings, the horror he saw pealed his conscience to its bones and his dreams were strangled by harrowing nightmares. That person, that soulless skeleton conversed with the devil.
Imagine if you were watching a horror film, where the screen doesn’t separate reality from fiction, where there’s no safety net, would you have the guts to enter that realm?
Welcome to a never before heard or see experience. One we dare you to forget. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you- Ghost Stories.
The idea was born in a random conference of an insignificant agenda on a rather hot day. After spending the afternoon sharing humourous anecdotes, the conversation took quite a turn, journeying through real life stories of ghosts and haunted houses. The mood was enough send shivers down anyone’s spine.
Having shared a horrifying account of his own at the conference, Dhruv Sachdeva (Director, Humour Me) realized the possibility of re-enacting these experiences. Putting a large, diverse audience at the heart of one’s horror story, taking them through a terrifying experience, wouldn’t that be spectacular?
And that is exactly what he and his team at Humour Me decided to create - a live horror experience, a psychological illusion or disillusion, to put a finer tune to it.
Roping in performers like Karan Singh, India’s very own Psychological Illusionist akin to Derren Brown, and Andrew Hoffland, a legendary actor and a man with many voices, an act was put up only for the bravest of hearts, or so it was written on the ticket- ‘ the weak hearted are warned of possible heart failures.’
The dark confuses you and intimidates you; the fear of ‘the unknown’ constantly nags you. What? Where? These questions shadow you. The dark comes alive and is breathing down your neck. It growls and gnaws at you, with a sharp, cold claw, slowly suffocating you.
Five tales were narrated, with bloodshot eyes reflecting the torture and trauma, once inflicted upon each of the storytellers. The stage was dark, and the silence, deafening. You enter the room blind, with only a lady clad in black robes to guide you. She leads you to your seat and all you hear is a constant drone like sound in the background, with the floor vibrating constantly. Your stability is shaken and you think twice before proceeding. Unknown and undecipherable sounds are thrown at you from different directions. The mystery thrills you but those sounds are inhuman. You are unable to pin point where they’re coming from, and that frightens you; you lose your sense of direction.
Ghost stories are an oral tradition; they are merely rumours, spiced up with every shift. But what if it's all real? What if it actually happened to you and the narration is merely your own first hand account?
Clifford Angelo Afonso’s possession scene and unreal satanic voice that one would imagine coming from depths of hell, a re-creating of his sadistic uncle, notorious for tortures left the front row rattled.
Lights out. A silent growl 2 inches from your face! “Can the actors attack me?” This just got a bit too hard to handle.
And, now you’re praying for safe departure…
You were aware of a shadow lurking in the dark, but from where? Does it approach you? Or is it just a figment of your imagination?
What were the conditions?
- No source of light or contact with the outside world; phones to be left outside the theater.
- No sense of comfort and familiarity; enter with a stranger.
- Rid yourself of the sense of security; situate yourself next to an unknown person.
The audience witnessed fear and desperation at its peak, their absolute survival mechanism kicked in.
What was so different about this experience?
It was pure catharsis; an atheist, a college professor, a psychological illusionist and a pragmatic disbeliever, sitting in front of you and narrating their very own, brutally honest stories. If their beliefs were shaken, then where does it leave you?
You’re probably wondering what the tales were. Murder? A pedophile? A sociopath? If I give away the plot, does it simmer down the dreadfulness? You can never know what the dark throws at you.
And just before you walk out, with no bearing and the shifting ground beneath your feet, you wonder whether it’s all over. Lights out.
The curtains draw in and the show comes to an end; you step up and finally ease your nerves.
Or is it?
Author: Chhaya Dabas