It’s time for another Haunted Shenanigans post. I thought I’d start by sharing with you the character I play at the Rebel Yell Haunted House. Before we got into the details of the character herself let’s go into the basics.
Clara here is the Pepper’s Ghost of the haunt. What is a Pepper’s Ghost? Also known as a Split Glass Effect a Pepper’s Ghost is essentially one of the earliest versions of a hologram you will ever see. It’s been utilized in theater, at fairs, side shows and is currently used in many haunted attractions all over the world (You are probably familiar with the Ball Room scene in The Haunted Mansion at Disney Land? Those dancers are a split glass effect.)
How it works: uh… here’s a link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper%27s_ghost
Essentially, you take a peice of glass and set it at an angle from the subject you want to have be “ghostly” or “morph” (the subject is in a black box. Behind the glass you have a scene or perhaps the item you want to morph into the subject. Using lighting (bringing up the light on the subject as you dim the light on the scene or the object to be morphed) you can make the subject appear and disappear (as transparent or solid as you like.) As the light comes up on the subject it reflects in the glass and you get an image of the subject.
Clara is achieved by using black light reflective makeup and costuming.
Naturally with a haunt you want to have a story. Otherwise it’s boring for both the guests and the haunters. So we have our own little story.You can find the full story of Rebel Yell here: http://www.rebelyell.info/rebelyell.html
Clara didn’t have a story when I started playing her. She didn’t even have a name. She was in fact originally a manikin but then the manikin’s head fell off and I took it’s place. Typically you don’t see the effect done with a live person. I’m not saying we’re the only haunt to do it but it’s not common. Probably because it’s hard to get an actor willing to stand in one place for hours on end. Everyone loved the live action ghosts so much that we kept her. So I made up a story for her.
Given the sordid history we gave our haunt I wanted to examine some of the past history of it so I created a story involving a young women torn between two brothers who ran the Funeral Home that became the Rebel Yell House. Essentially she was to marry one brother but the other was jealous and killed them both. The brother was locked in the attic and poor Clara was embalmed alive. She was buried in an unmarked crypt and the brother who killed her eventually hung himself in said crypt. Clara haunted the house and was partly responsible for the death of the doctor’s children and wife. She was trying to help but being unable to speak kind of lead to some miscommunication. Now she tries to help those who get lost in the house find their way out.
Costume and Makeup:
As I said before the costume and makeup are black light reflective. The dress I wear is white with the skirt being made of white tule. Which, being shredded gives the effect that the skirt is disappearing into nothing and that I am floating. The make up is Kryolon brand UV reactive blue body paint, some black eye liner and some UV reflective red makeup. The reason for choosing blue was to match the purple/blue cast of the costume and also to give me that nice wraithly glow. The box I stand in is lit with black lights and the scene behind the glass is set up to look like the entrance to a crypt lit dimly but just enough for you to see the items.
When I’m playing Clara I try to seem sad and helpful. I’m not sure I come across as such but I try to keep it in mind when I am beckoning people towards me and then pointing them towards where they should be heading next.
Being a ghost who dosen’t talk and whom people can’t touch or see where I actually am has some fun things that go with it. For one thing I get to hear all sorts of wild speculation as to how the effect is achieved. According to many I am a projection from a camera, a manikin, or some kind of television thing.
More entertaining is when people try to communicate with me. They say all sorts of things and assume I can’t see them and are surprised, delighted and bewildered when I respond to their questions with nods or head shakes or gestures.
My favorite story is when a little girl and her brother were staring at me. The sister was super impressed by me but the brother kept explaining how the effect worked (erroneously, he didn’t really know) and insisted that I wasn’t a real person. So when he wasn’t looking I popped my head around the corner where the girl could see me and I put my finger to my lips. The rest of the evening she was a giggly happy girl because she knew how the effect worked and he didn’t and she had a secret with the “pretty ghost lady.”
Drawbacks: Well obviously standing still in one place being blinded by black lights can bet a little tedious. This is why we have a manikin stand in for me so that I can occasionally get out and roam the haunt.
There you have it. Clara Goodwin, the Rebel Yell Haunted House’s resident Pepper’s Ghost. I hope you enjoyed this installment of Haunted Shenanigans.