By Deborah Brancic, Pasadena Now Correspondent
Classic horror theater in a real cemetery? Nothing could be more perfect for Halloween.
Unbound Productions, a nonprofit theater company based in Los Angeles, has begun its fifth annual production of Wicked Lit, a series of plays adapting classic horror literature into an interactive experience for theater attendees.
Wicked Lit 2013 offers audiences a chance to wander the grounds of the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery while enjoying four performances by talented artists who bring the art to life while in the presence of death.
The history of Wicked Lit began four years ago, when Unbound co-artistic directors — Jonathan Josephson, Paul Millet, and Jeff G. Rack — were presented with an opportunity to perform in Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills in 2009.
Since then, the production has been housed at the Mountain View Mausoleum every Halloween season. “Since the first performance at the mansion that became our mission, to make adaptations of classic horror theater in a nontraditional space,” said Josephson.
“We limit the number of people who attend to create an intimate atmosphere,” he said. He explained that since the audience follows the actors from setting to setting throughout the mausoleum, it is best not to have too many people traveling at once, because that might detract from the overall experience.
The Wicked Lit 2013 performances include “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “The New Catacomb,” and “The Lurking Fear.” In-between plays, audiences are treated with numerous performances of “The Masque of the Red Death Experience,” which draws text and tone from the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Each play involves actors interacting with the audience, either as tour guides, musical performers, or as the characters themselves.
Audiences delighted in the feigned impromptu nature of the plays Friday night. The tour guides for “The Lurking Fear” engaged attendees as they led them from room to room both inside and outside the mausoleum. “The New Catacomb” adapted the mazes within the structure to resemble the winding paths found within ancient ruins, and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” properly included a trip to the cemetery, as can be expected for such a tale.
In order to better serve those who enjoy Unbound Productions, Josephson said the nonprofit had just begun a membership program this year, to better enable enthusiasts to attend shows such as History Lit in May, and other installations like “The Tell-Tale Heart,” produced in August. “The people who love what we do are fanatical,” he said, and so Unbound started a program to allow fans to attend every production throughout the year. “The cost is $10 per month, for the minimum of one year, and you can attend all of our shows for free,” he said.
This new membership option would not only allow fans of Unbound unlimited viewings, but also help to fund the nonprofit, and future performances. “It is important to have a base, and to expand on it,” said Josephson. This would allow the company to better serve its staff of actors and production personnel. “They are so talented, we want to do right by our people,” he said.
Wicked Lit 2013 is scheduled to perform on 16 more dates between now and November 2nd, Thursday through Sunday nights. The final week will include a performance on Wednesday night. Purchase options for the final weekend will be available starting on October 7th.
For more information, visit http://unboundproductions.org/.