De La Salle University in October, a time when students would cram for the dreaded Midterm week whilst looking forward to the long weekend that comes at the end of the month. It is also the month in which every Lasallian’s face grows green, not because the Green Archers are in the finals but because of the fact that other Universities are out on their semestral break (Hooray for the Trimestral System!).
You may be wondering, “What about Halloween?”. Well, any Lasallian at this day and age would know that Halloween in De La Salle University does not occur during Second term but rather during the subsequent term, when Univeristy week occurs. It is during this time that the Harlequin Theater Guild’s famous horror house opens its screeching doors for everyone and Jess Gusayko, Harlequin’s Division Manager for Finance will give us an idea of what goes on behind the scenes of DLSU’s scariest attraction, the Haunted Hall!
The Harlequin Theater Guild (HTG), known before as the La Salle Dramatics Guild has been running for 47 seasons. The theater company has been staging productions since then and has seen alumni thrown into the spotlight, an example being Director Mark Reyes.
The Haunted Hall has been part of Harlequin’s yearly season for six years now, coming from humble beginnings, it has since become a Lasallian staple. Having different themes every year, with last year’s being folklore, it hasn’t failed to instill fear in the hearts of anyone who dared enter.
Planning the Hall
Much like how engineers with buildings and generals planning a campaign against their foes, the Haunted Hall requires meticulous planning and strategy. The sets, costumes and the theme are only but a few of the factors they have to plug in.
The theme is, however, one of the most important. Without a theme, there is no Haunted Hall, or presumably just a number of generic monsters screaming at anyone going through the door.
When planning for the theme, the executive board and the project team for the Haunted Hall are the ones who brainstorm. Once that it is all said and done, it must go through the Culture and Arts Office for approval.
With the approval of the theme, the actual planning gets underway. A storyboard takes place, wherein the story and the flow start to fizzle into existence. The costumes are designed and the sets are built from scratch.
When asked about the process of planning this hall of horrors, Gusayko states that they first plan the flow of the entire story before planning each room of attraction. Making sure each room doesn’t overpower the flow of the story, maintaining the flow of the Haunted Hall is key rather than making each room better than the other.
A Haunting Production
With the strategizing done, here come the preparations, turning the intangible into the tangible; the production portion. This is the time when the costumes are produced and the sets are made; this is where the story begins to come alive.
The Haunted Hall production is done mainly by the members of the guild, however, the troupe does get experienced external help. Consultants and alumni provide HTG with advice in order to make this house of creepy a success. Gusayko proudly tells that these people are not considered as external help as they are part of their family.
According to Gusayko, the props for the Haunted Hall usually starts in the month of January. “Every night ‘yan and then we have Saturdays whole days and Saturdays ng gabi kasi talagang ma fufully execute mo yung lugar kasi it takes hard work.”
Some people may be wondering : “How do they determine ticket prices?”. Well, it is determined by the production costs. Basically, for the same reason the prices of other goods are determined, covering the costs plus receiving profit. These will be used for the guild’s major productions. It is good to note that the Guild does make it as fair as it can in order for it to be affordable.
Publicity begins a few weeks before opening night. Teasers (about three of them) are usually released before the poster; this usually happens in January. They also guest in radio stations in order to promote the Fundraising Activity. Come Haunted Hall week, Lasallians will be treated to a scare as the actors, in full costume and makeup, roam around the campus with signs promoting the Haunted Hall. Ticket sales usually start weeks before and continue on till the last day of Haunted Hall.
University week is one busy week for the Harlequin Theater Guild as students from the far corners of De La Salle (that’s Andrew and LS) flock to Mutien Marie to experience fear, Harlequin style.
Call time for the crew is around 4pm. This is to give time for everyone to prepare and get into makeup and costume. 5:30 pm is when everyone goes on standby; people are in their proper places and ready to get the show started. The gates open at 6pm and could close as late as 10pm depending on the number of those in line.
“The week is very exhausting for everybody. Not just the actors and the technicals and the productions [because] aside from … doing Haunted Hall we’re [also] preparing for our major production for that term so talagang everyone is really swamped with work,” shares Gusayko.
There it is, a look at what goes behind the curtains of the Haunted Hall. Be sure to look out for this awesome attraction come third term and just an added bonus, a kid has been reported to be roaming Mutien Marie and was even spotted by some students in one of the Haunted Hall’s rooms. Make of it as you will.