Local theater group bring interactivity to holiday standard
BY ALORA HAAF
Maggie Forrester, a national treasure beloved by many, has died.
You are one of many attending her memorial.
What you and the attendees will soon learn is that Maggie also had a horrifying secret.
This is the plot for this year’s Quarantine Haunted House.
For four years running, Blackout Theatre has performed Quarantine – part theater production, part haunted house – every October. Since its beginning Quarantine has been about zombies, but this year’s interactive theater project is about ghosts and demons.
Jeff Andersen, director of Quarantine, said the story has changed, and “Quarantine: The Curse” will take place in a girls’ home that had once been run by the dearly departed Ms. Forrester.
Zombies, he said, are old hat, one-trick ponies – but spirits and demons offer audiences a more intelligent version of the creeps.
“There’s only so many ways you can get chased mindlessly. We realized ghosts can do a lot – they can do a lot of supernatural stuff,” Andersen said.
While this provides a fresh start for the actors and audience, the change also lends itself to creating a more intricate, long-running narrative.
Every production for Blackout Theatre’s 10th season is based on Maggie Forrester’s cursed family. With that in mind, Blackout Theatre set about creating an immersive haunted house that conveys a story, complete with character development and plot arcs.
Stephen Armijo, a guide at Quarantine, said the new Quarantine takes the idea of a haunted house to a level beyond what audiences are used to.
“It’s literally a haunted house: It’s not a series of unrelated scares,” he said. “Demons and ghosts lend themselves to storytelling. Ghosts can talk; ghosts can do things. There’s a reason there’s ghost stories.”
In the course of 35 minutes, audience members come to find out about mysterious happenings around The Forrester School for Girls, who Maggie Forrester was and what motivated her questionable behavior, and – if they can solve the puzzle – how to reverse the damage.
“It’s cool that so many people are coming to see a theater show and experience theater in a new way that they might not have thought theater could be,” Andersen said.
Quarantine will be run through Oct. 31. For show times and schedules, visit quarantineabq.com.
Alora Haaf is a freelance reporter for ABQ Free Press. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org