As October draws to a close, much of the Twin Cities is getting in the Halloween mood, and the local artist community is no exception. Nowhere is this more apparent than at The Soap Factory‘s Haunted Basement. More than an art installation however, The Haunted Basement is an interactive experience that’s designed and curated by artists. We spoke with The Soap Factory’s Program Manager, Lillian Egner, about the gory details of the sixth Haunted Basement.
MN Original: This year’s Haunted Basement is directed by theater director, Noah Bremer. How did that collaboration come about?
Lillian Egner: The Soap Factory restructured how The Haunted Basement project is organized for 2012 and moved from having a team of directors to one overall director. We interviewed many incredible candidates but Noah Bremer was the best fit for The Haunted Basement.
MNO: What has Noah’s vision and experience as a theater director brought to this year’s Haunted Basement that sets it apart from the previous five years?
LE: Noah’s experience with Live Action Set, Cirque du Soleil, and very physical styles of theater are a terrific match for the project. Noah has been working with our team of Haunted Basement artists since Spring of this year to cultivate their individual concepts. Each idea for an environment starts as a small kernel and builds as we flesh out the physical space, costuming, and action of the room. The Haunted Basement is about actors truly immersing themselves in their characters, so it’s much closer to improv than Theater. Having Noah involved in the creative direction of The Haunted Basement has helped the artists and actors develop fantastic environments.
Each year The Haunted Basement is completely redesigned and deals with new themes, characters and scares. Noah moved from the position of a Haunted Basement patron (he actually cried “uncle” back in 2007 during his first Haunted Basement visit) to Director. He brings a new perspective on audience engagement and immersive theater that keeps The Haunted Basement refreshed from year to year.
MNO: Scariest room in the Basement this year (without giving away any spoilers)?
LE: That’s a tough one! One of the scariest this year begins with patrons walking through a cattle chute to enter the environment. I can’t tell you what happens inside, but let’s just say that each patron is carefully examined for quality…
MNO: One of the most unique aspects of The Haunted Basement is the attention to sensory stimulation, and in particular smells, which are specially created by The St. Croix Sensory. What’s the worst smell in this year’s Haunted Basement?
LE: Baby Powder.
MNO: Complete this sentence: The Haunted Basement will be successful this year if you get ______ number of people to cry “uncle.”
LE: We’ve had about 20 “uncles” thus far but we don’t have a target number. In 2011 over 400 people “Uncled out” which is a bit disappointing to the artists. That is 400 people who don’t get to see their rooms or experience the action.
For a taste of The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement, watch our video on the 2011 Haunted Basement: