1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania Theater Guild stages post-PumpkinMania reading for 2023 Fright Night

The 2022-23 Theater Guild Executive Committee on the steps of MFA

Transylvania’s Theater Guild is ready for a spooky season. The student-driven organization is preparing for its annual Fright Night performance — but this year, something’s different. 

In lieu of the 10-minute play festival that the Guild has staged in recent years, this October, the Theater Guild will stage a reading of selections from “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” the 1981 short-story collection that sparked nightmares for a generation of children. 

The production will incorporate foley art, a sound effect technique that can replicate a story’s key elements, such as a creaking door or the clopping of horse hooves. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” will use both visual and auditory foley effects — like flashlights shining into the audience to represent high beams from a car on the highway.

The Guild, who see themselves as “the stepping stone to get into the theater department,” chose the readings due to the low barrier to entry for first-year members. Unlike most theatrical productions, memorization is not required, and there is no rehearsal cycle. 

Most of the Theater Guild’s executive committee — which consists of Tanner Peck (president), Sofia Ricketts (vice president), Maddie Goins (secretary), Anne Elizabeth Forker (treasurer),  Vanessa Rivera (public relations chair) and Kevin Johnson (parliamentarian) — started their Transylvania career in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring them to get creative with production options. 

“A radio play was our first acting opportunity here,” explained Johnson, who is directing the Fright Night foley artists. “It gave us the idea to do foley again.” He added, “Fright Night is a low-stakes way for people to get involved. The hope is to get a lot of freshmen to participate.”

The Guild executive committee sees “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” as a group project. “With a cold read, a director isn’t particularly needed,” Peck explained, adding that getting dialogue to the foley artists, hitting cues and blending with other readers are the primary concerns. “It puts a lot less weight on everyone’s shoulders.”

“We are all acting as producers,” Johnson added. “We all share equal responsibility for the show.” 

Peck warned that the stories presented are intended to scare. “We’ve done our best to keep it family friendly, and this is a Scholastic book, but they are still horror stories,” he said. Audiences should keep in mind that the presentation may not be appropriate for younger audiences; content includes stalking, murder and cannibalism.

The Fright Night production will be staged twice during the weekend prior to Halloween, but the two showings will notably differ in location. 

The first performance will be held Saturday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Coleman Theater. Tickets are free at the door, but seating is limited.

On Sunday, Oct. 29, the Guild will hold an encore performance of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” at 9 p.m. on Old Morrison lawn — with 500 lit jack-o-lanterns behind the actors and artists. The free event, held just a few hours after the university’s annual PumpkinMania festival, is the ideal way to conclude a day of Halloween fun on Transylvania’s campus.