Robyn Sanderson and Aren Okemaysim wear masks as they lead groups of six on ghost tours of the Globe Theatre.
That’s medical-style masks, not costume masks as you might expect leading up to Halloween.
Hiding the bulk of their facial expression is a challenge for the actors during the Behind The Screams and Haunted History tours, on through Oct. 31 in Regina.
“It’s certainly not easy,” said Damien James Webb, a production assistant at the Globe and one of the creators of the theatre’s current programming.
“And then when you combine that with the idea that we’re not on a stage — we’re in a hallway or we’re in a nook or a cranny or an office, the space changes throughout the entire thing — so their vocal projection needs to change too. And so that was kind of an interesting thing for them to get used to as well.”
The ghost tours are the Globe’s first offering since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down its programs along with most everything else.
As restrictions have lifted, staff started brainstorming about what they could do to engage audiences in a safe way: “Is there something we can do to still provide entertainment to people even though we can’t all sit in a room and enjoy theatre as it should be?” said Webb.
Last fall, the front of house manager devised an impromptu ghostly tour for Halloween, which got good feedback.
So this fall, the team is running with it — creating a scripted show (written by Greg Ochitwa) based on the real ghostly encounters of Globe staff past and present.
Asking around, “We found out there was a lot of people that were experiencing the same thing,” said Webb. “There was even times in the past years that they had paranormal investigators come through and they even did whole nights here, they did tests in certain rooms and they were finding (paranormal) activities.”
Webb said these stories are being shared respectfully, and the 45-minute tour is not like a traditional haunted house.
“We’re dialling it back (from) the standard Halloween mask, jump-around-from-the-corner kind of thing; it’s a little more refined.”
While it’s a ghost tour, it’s also partly a farewell, as the Globe’s Prince Edward Building home is about to begin a two-year renovation.
The tour guides will “take you all throughout the building, showing you all the weird nooks and crannies and allowing you to experience the interesting layout and quirkiness of the Globe while it’s still as it is.”
Given COVID-19 restrictions, up to six people are allowed on a tour. They must wear a mask. They must remain six feet apart if they’re from different households, and there will be markers throughout the tour to remind them. Spaces will be sanitized before and after the tours.
This is all following the provincial government’s Re-Open Saskatchewan guidelines specific to haunted houses, announced in late September.
A theatrical tour is much different from the Globe’s standard productions.
“We’ve done shows in the same manner for I don’t know how long,” said Webb. This project has allowed the team to “think outside the box and figure out new ways to present a show to people.”
This production fits into the style of new artistic director Jennifer Brewin, who has devised shows that led audiences through city streets and across 80-acre farms on a horse-led sleigh.
While this project was in the works before Brewin’s September arrival at the Globe, she has given “absolutely wonderful input,” said Webb, “because she does come from a place of unusual theatre. So I think having her here and having her experience and knowledge is really beneficial for the type of things that we could and possibly will be doing in the future.”
Find out more about the ghost tours at globetheatrelive.com. Tickets are selling quickly. For wheelchair-accessible options, call the box office at 306-525-6400; otherwise, expect a heavy use of stairs.