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  • Phil Jenkins

A haunted Hills story hour

When I was a cub scout in Elmvale Acres in Ottawa, I recall a campfire when the cubmaster told a scary story. It was probably around Halloween. I remember almost nothing of the story itself, except its effect. As the best scary stories do, it left me with the uneasy feeling that all was not as I had thought it was. The realm of the inexplicable in those stories was possible, at least while the story was being told, even in a 1950s Canadian suburb.


Hearing subsequent scary stories also taught me the power of words when they infiltrate the imagination. For instance, when I read Stephen King's stories, I’m “in” them; watching them at the movies, I’m merely “in front” of them. Scary stories are spells, and they resurrect that childhood belief that what can be imagined might be real.


Although Theatre Wakefield's (and friends) The Haunted Hills Hallowe'en Story Hour at the Wakefield community centre on Oct. 28 advertises itself as, “Live reading of stories by local writers to chill the blood and keep you up at night,” the organizer and director, Steve Powers, assures me there will be as much humour as horror.

“The stories range from slightly scary to really funny and are geared for all ages,” Powers says.


The story writers, seven in all, are local: Peter Gillies, Sue Gravel, Laurie Gough, Cathy Edwards, Glenn Leckie, Leia Ranger-Drouin, and, full disclosure, myself. Some authors will be doing their own, wide-ranging readings; one or two will be delivered by actors. They will be about 10 minutes long, so parents will be home in time to tuck the kids in and check under the bed.


Working to make this evening spooky and special, Theatre Wakefield has called on its pool of professionals to amp up the ambiance, including: the master of ceremonies, Painsworth; the very talented Vanessa Passmore as set designer and makeup/costume advisor; musicians Wim Kok and Neil Sundet performing live on eerie percussion and electric guitar, respectively; and Claude Leroche in the booth doing lighting and sound. Also, before the show there will be Halloween face painting for the younger gremlins by makeup artist Christine Stenger.


To slightly misquote the criminologist from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” :“We'd like to take you on a strange journey.”


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