You might have spotted a misplaced zombie walking around campus, or internally shrieked upon bumping into a white lady along the hallway these past couple weeks. The DLSU Harlequin Theatre Guild’s annual Haunted Hall had been wringing in screams for seven years straight—only this time, the scream fest had moved out of the unsettling halls of Mutien Marie, which students and the cast themselves have grown accustomed to. For the first time, the Harlequin Theatre Guild found itself in an equally eerie location, the William Shaw Little Theater.
HAUNTED HALL VII: ADMIT ONE put on a show, taking audiences through an abandoned theater. And as you wouldn’t catch a horror movie alone, it was advised to have gone with a friend or four.
We were briefed to leave our belongings behind before entering the theater. We were also told that, “kung may humawak sa inyo, hindi na kami yun.” From the unnerving yellow lights of William Hall, the doors opened into a chaotic scene that looked as if it were under construction. With nothing but the usher’s phone flashlight momentarily pointing the way through, seconds later we were on our own.
Greeted by nothing but a disturbing pitch-black, we took little anxious steps and began our descent through the theater hall. Heavy breathing and sweaty palms, I forget we are the audience and these are the actors. We’ve become a part of the playhouse—more like a nuthouse. And did I say it was supposed to be an abandoned theater? Because the brooding silence seemed to foreshadow the events to come. There was nothing abandoned about this theater.
From afar, we couldn’t make out if it was just a figment of our imaginations or a little girl waiting for us. “How could the cast of college students have a little girl anyway? It couldn’t be,” I thought to myself, trying to be skeptical. Shortly after, I lost my senses. Under the subdued glow of the fire exit sign, we met the first of many grim characters.
If it wasn’t a confusing darkness, it was flickering lights. If it wasn’t pitch-black, it was an even darker figure walking by the corner of your eye. Shadows called out from behind draped curtains. Colonial, wooden furniture decorated the ruckus. This place was far from homey. I wanted it to be over, and in my clumsy rush up the stage steps, I left behind my shoe. It sounds a little like Cinderella, except this was the kind of place where people who played Cinderella came to die.
Theater veterans have said, “break a leg” one too many times; it appears someone might have. My friend almost tripped over it. We didn’t know which way was stage left or stage right, or how long it would take to get out. As we dreaded every sharp turn, a zombie would follow behind, then approach us from the front. We were stuck in what could be described as a claustrophobe’s nightmare. When we weren’t cornered, we stood in front of an unforgettable site. From where actors would usually take a bow front and center, the audience were seated ghosts watching all along.
It turns out strange occurrences took place during the event’s preparation, which the members of the Harlequin Theatre Guild can attest to. Although I won’t go into detail, it may have something to do with the fact that the William Shaw Little Theater is one of DLSU’s barely used auditoriums, even if it’s been around for decades. The cast and crew have been the first in too long to lace the theater with so much life, and of course, so much death as well. During their production, they admit to have been even more spooked out in this new old location over the more frequented yet equally dismal hospital-like Mutien Marie building. Nothing that a few group prayers at 3 am couldn’t fix. And the brave souls continue to put on a show for us, among other souls.
I don’t regret going to one of DLSU’s anticipated yearly traditions. Despite losing my voice and causing temporary damage to my friends’ hearing, I actually regret not having gone in previous years. After all, it’s just a show right? Until something off-script happens, then you’re just going to have to check with the cast and crew who are more than eager to hear about your experiences.
Assuming of course, it’s still the cast and crew you’re talking to.