Lights, Camera, Action!

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“The Golden Age of Hollywood” lasted from the end of the silent era in the late 1920s to the early 1960s. However, its heyday was the 1930’s and 1940’s, as motion-picture admissions started to decline from 1946.

That wasn’t going to affect a new group of Hollywood hopefuls. Wannabe producers, directors and actors  were transported back in time this November to the 1950’s…….

Lights, Camera, Action - photo by Juliamaud

Lights, Camera, Action – photo by Juliamaud

A Door In A Wall’s newest interactive production

Our team assembled at Mirth, Marvel & Maud in Walthamstow. The current building opened in the 1930s as a Granada Cinema, but there are records of films being shown on the site as early as 1896. A fitting venue to start our new production company.

Our team were among the first “Hollywood high rollers” to try out the new production by A Door In A Wall. We joined other hopefuls eager to learn the secrets to making a successful movie. Unlike A Door In A Wall’s earlier interactive games, this was not a murder mystery. Instead of solving a crime, we were tasked with producing mini movies.

To help us, we were provided with scenes to act and scripts to follow. We were told improvisation was allowed, so we ended up ad libbing most of it.

Groups of 3-6 were recommended and I was sure I’d read somewhere that not everyone had to appear on screen. We had one person had to drop out on the night, so our “company” was down to three. Not to worry as the game can be played by two. However this requires both of you to act. With three of us we were able to choose between two or three player scripts.

It took a while to relax into being on screen. But by the end of the night we were all having fun being a star.

As well as learning our lines we had to decide on props and costumes. We also had to get pointers from Hollywood stars and production crew on what to include in our movies. This was the interacting with characters bit of the evening.

Costume suggestions were 1950’s and some groups went for the Hollywood glamour look in a big way. In fact, at some points, it was hard to tell the real actors from the participants.

The evening ended with a glitzy ceremony to honour the best efforts. With so many teams taking part they were only able to screen the best ones. It was a pity we haven’t got to see our finished products. (Yes, I know. I’m shocked we didn’t win ) It would have been good to  see the finished films we’d made. A follow up email suggested we would be sent details and links to our efforts, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened.

A fun evenings entertainment anyway.

 

UPDATE: Since writing this blog I have received a link to the movies made on the night. I’m not at liberty to share those made by other film producers and, while I’d like to thank the cast, crew, writers etc for our wonderful productions, the background noise requires me to withhold screening ours. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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The Prisoner

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It had been a while since we’d played an escape room so when one of the team suggested we try out a new company in East London we jumped at it.

A short time later we found ourselves walking down a slope into what looked like a garage. At the end was the entrance to London Escaped.  Inside we found a large space with sofas, games and a TV playing. A great waiting area if you were taking a big group.

When booking, our team mate had been offered a choice of two rooms, although there are more available now, and had elected to play The Prisoner. This is a horror themed room where you have to escape the executioner nicknamed “Bloody Elbow”.

Briefing

During the briefing we were told the room was difficult.

They also said they could make it scarier depending on the team. I asked if they could tone down the scares, and was told they turn them up for wimpy teams. Probably explains why other reviewers say they were screaming.

The Games Master included the usual comments about checking everywhere and not breaking the set. We were also warned that the room contained real props and needed to be careful how we handled things.

Then we were lined up outside the dungeon and hooded before being lead into the room individually.

Elaborately decorated rooms

This escape room appears to be aiming for the immersive experience rather than for the puzzle enthusiast.

The floor is strewn with straw and the lighting kept to a minimum. There are small (battery operated) candles to help you search the dungeon.  And the horror theme is reinforced with the torture instruments, body parts and realistic looking dummies.

The set design for the room was fantastic. Unfortunately I was reminded of another company that had fantastic sets and props but bad puzzles….. Luckily I did not feel as cheated with this game.

Puzzles

Looking back, we decided there had been a lot of searching and finding but not much deducing and solving. However, this was in keeping with the theme. Finding keys to escape rather than codes for combination locks made sense.

There was also one solution that required using a tool to physically destroy something in the room. This went against Standard Escape Room Rules and against the briefing of don’t break the set.

Hints

Again, in keeping with the room, hints came via whispered conversations from other prisoners. We were a small team who all kept quiet when the audio played, so we were able to hear the hints OK, but I’m guessing with a big screaming team this may be a problem.

Panic

There is a fine line between screams that are “fun” and screams that are genuine panic.

I don’t tend to read the reviews until after I’ve played so I hadn’t noticed until later that another reviewer suggested if you are claustrophobic, or can’t stand being hooded, mention it to the Games Master at the beginning. During the briefing, when I’d asked if they could tone down the scares, I was told they turn them up for wimpy teams. So it takes a brave person to admit they are claustrophobic, or can’t stand being hooded, after being warned the GMs will make things harder ………

However, one of our team falls into this category and they had a big discussion about not wearing the hood at the start.

They also dislike being restrained and this game begins with the team being isolated and restrained in the inquisitor’s dungeon. While you could argue the clue is in the title –  The Prisoner –  it should have been fairly easy for all the team to escape into the main room, with access to an exit in case of emergency. This was not the case and resulted in genuine panic.

Escape!

Yes we did complete the room and escape within the hour.

Disclosure: The Games Master had to come and unlock one member after fifteen minutes at the request of the team.

In case of emergency?

This raises the question of what would have happened in an emergency. What if the team could not release all members and the GM could not reach the room with an emergency key in time?

* Both London Escaped  and Nowescape state that escape rooms are simulated experiences and you can leave at any time.

* This room can also be played at Quest Room in Los Angeles as Bloody Elbow. Quest Room state “Yes, the doors will be locked, but we do have, built in, methods of exiting the room……for The Bloody Elbow we require all members to play through, until the end.”

Although all these websites say it is possible to exit the room, they do not indicate how teams release the restraints/cell doors in order to exit the room in an emergency.

This is not a new problem. We once played an escape room where the whole team were chained to a wall in a basement and the GM was on another floor. By solving puzzles were were able to release one member, but the rest had to wait another ten minutes for him to solve more puzzles and release us. It was only later that we began to question the safety of being chained within an escape room. That escape room (Hidden Rooms) has since closed.

The Prisoner photo from nowescape.com

Photo from London Escaped as team photo not available.

What the company say to expect

“The Prisoner known as The Bloody Elbow. It is the time of the Holy Medieval Inquisition around the 14th century. You have all been accused of witchcraft and imprisoned awaiting your death by the hands of a executioner nicknamed “Bloody Elbow”.

He is infamous for his love of using horrifying torture to obtain confession of your crimes, this often lead to a slow and agonising death if you were lucky, “Bloody Elbow” has left you for a rest between the bouts of torture, this is your chance, you have 60 minutes to escape your hideous dungeon and change your fate forever.” – taken from website

 

 

 

Guy Fawkes

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Invitation To Events

http://www.bridgemanartondemand.com/art/86985/Guy_Fawkes_from_Peeps_into_the_Past_published_c1900 Guy Fawkes, from ‘Peeps into the Past’

Born in York to Edward and Edith Fawkes, Guy Fawkes was baptised a Protestant at St Michael le Belfry on the 16th April 1570. His father was a proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York, who died when the boy was eight. Guy’s mother later married a Catholic, Dionis Baynbrigge and Guy Fawkes converted to Roman Catholic.

Guy Fawkes went to Europe to fight for the Spanish Catholics in the Eighty Years War.  While fighting in Flanders, he was asked by Thomas Wintour to join a plot by Robert Catesby to kill the Protestant King James and as many Members of Parliament as possible.

In 1604 Fawkes met Robert Catesby, along with Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy and John Wright and at the Duck and Drake Inn to plan the conspiracy. Over time they were…

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Haunted House Trail

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Halloween-themed haunted houses first emerged during the Great Depression as ways to distract young tricksters. Groups of families would deck out their basements with home made scary decorations. Then they would hold “house-to-house” parties, where the children would travel from basement to basement, experiencing different scary scenes.

Trails Of Terror

A 1937 party pamphlet is quoted in Lisa Morton’s book Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween” which describes how parents  designed “trails of terror” to spook the children.

An outside entrance leads to a rendezvous with ghosts and witches in the cellar or attic. Hang old fur, strips of raw liver on walls, where one feels his way to dark steps….Weird moans and howls come from dark corners, damp sponges and hair nets hung from the ceiling touch his face….Doorways are blockaded so that guests must crawl through a long dark tunnel….At the end he hears a plaintive ‘meow’ and sees a black cardboard cat outlined in luminous paint…”
Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween
Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween

 

Trick or Treat examines the origins and history of Halloween as well as exploring its current global popularity. The book takes readers on a journey from the spectacular to the macabre, making it a must for anyone who wants to peep behind the mask to see the real past and present of this ever more popular holiday.

Available from Amazon.

Scary history

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Not a big attraction in the UK (yet), there are over 1,200 professional haunted houses, 3,000 charity-run spookshows and 300 theme parks that operate horror-themed events in the United States.

Creating scares is not a recent phenomenon –

but in the past it was used for different purposes.

The ancient Egyptians used scares to keep body snatchers and tomb raiders away from the contents of their pyramids. They employed moving walls and self-opening doors, traps and mazes, as well as snakes and insects to provoke fear.

Mazes and labyrinths, often filled with monsters, can also be found in Greek and Roman folklore.

Theatrical scares were started in ancient Greek theatre, with productions including things such as trapdoors, ghostly images and fake blood. By the middles ages, travelling players performed mostly Biblical stories, including the scarier parts which were intended to frighten audiences into being good Christians.

The middle ages was also when the idea of Halloween, as we know it today, began. When the Europeans converted to  Christianity, they carried over the idea of an autumn holiday from their Celtic and pagan religions. This included bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins or turnips, dressing in costume and trick -or-treating.

Communicating with the dead……

As theatres developed, so did the development of special effects for the Ghosts, demons and monsters that often appeared in plays. But these spectral sightings were make believe.

By the 1800’s additional forms of ghostly entertainment were available, with Mediums, fortune tellers and spiritualists communicating with the dead.

Or did they?

Harry Houdini and others debunked several famous spiritualists as frauds.

Amusement park thrills and beyond……

In the early 20th century freakshows and dark rides became part of the travelling carnival’s attractions. Then permanent sites for amusement parks sprang up. These included haunted houses and mazes.

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion did not open until 1969. It’s facade was based on the Winchester Mystery House. Inside the house visitors ride “doom buggies” through the haunted mansion.

Now haunted hoses are not restricted to amusement parks. Halloween enthusiasts known as “home haunters” create attractions at their homes. There are also haunted hayrides, mazes and scavenger hunts.

night building forest trees
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last year the team attended Fright Night near Southampton.

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Science Gallery London

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Science Gallery London is a cultural destination designed to connect art, science and health in one space. This new “museum” is at the Guy’s campus of King’s College London at London Bridge and is free to enter. As well as the exhibitions, there is a shop and a cafe.

We stumbled across it as we were leaving London Bridge station so dropped in to see what it contained.

It is not a conventional museum, but rather a collection of exhibitions, events, performances, workshops, debates and festivals. The gallery does not have a permanent collection but offers themed seasons, focusing on issues of global significance. The first season tackles addiction and recovery.

The goal is to attract over 300,000 visitors a year, especially 15 to 25 year olds.

Professor Ed Byrne, President & Principal of King’s College London, is quoted as saying: “Science Gallery London will open new ways into King’s, inviting our local communities and visitors from around the world to come into the university to connect with, explore and contribute to the generation of new knowledge”.

 

Extract from the international.sciencegallery.com

The launch season HOOKED: WHEN WANT BECOMES NEED explores the complex world of addiction and recovery. From gambling to gaming and smartphones to social media, HOOKED will question what makes us vulnerable to addiction and examine underlying factors and routes to recovery. The exhibition invites visitors to explore the latest research and thinking on the subject as well as question their own ideas about the scientific and cultural aspects of this much-debated topic.

addiction bet betting casino
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

 

Visiting The Globe Theatre

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All the World’s a Stage

The Globe stage - photo by Juliamaud
The Globe stage – photo by Juliamaud

Shakespeare’s Globe is a faithful reconstruction of the open-air playhouse designed in 1599 and a unique international resource dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the playhouse for which he wrote.”

The centre of the theatre, and standing space in front of the stage, is open to the sky. The auditorium also has seats arranged across three levels around the side. These are covered with a thatched roof. This is the only thatched roof in London.

Whilst thatched roofs remain popular in English villages, they have been seen as dangerous in cities following the Great Fire of London. ‘The ordinance of 1212 (London’s  first building regulation) banned the use of thatch to stop any further incidents of rapid fire spread from one building to another.

The Globe is London's only open air theatre with  a thatched roof - photo by Juliamaud
The Globe is London’s only open air theatre with a thatched roof – photo by Juliamaud

Tours of the Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre tours run every day, except 24 & 25 December. For the Globe Theatre performance season (mid-April to mid-October) the tours finish at midday to allow for the matinee performances.

Tours include the inside and outside of the building.

the Globe Theatre photo by Juliamaud

A visit to the Globe Exhibition

There is an accompanying exhibition with details about London’s history, displays of costume and props used for plays, and demonstrations of printing.

You can listen to recording of Shakespeare read by famous actors from the past and even have a go at recording a brief snippet yourself.

Globe Theatre banner - photo by Juliamaud
Globe Theatre banner – photo by Juliamaud

 

 

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