Spooky Season is upon us, but it’s lockdown… there’s nothing to do right? WRONG! Bram Stoker fest is offering up deadly thrills for those brave enough this Halloween weekend. Megan O’Brien chatted to the directors of the festival about what’s in store this year.
Like so many other arts and cultural events in 2020, Bram Stoker Fest had to change its model this year owing to the restrictions, but they don’t necessarily consider themselves to be a virtual festival. “While you’ll find out about a lot of it through our website, most of the programme is interactive, participatory and involves activity on the side of the audience,” said co-director of the festival, Tom Lawlor.
Lawlor said that they decided back in summer to plan the festival so that it could go ahead under any level of restrictions due to the level of uncertainty we’re living with now. “Once we decided the programme would be primarily delivered in people’s homes, it made those challenges real opportunities to present new experiences delivered in new ways – for instance, our long association with Macnas, who would typically present a parade to close the festival, has become Macnas At Home – a series of videos teaching kids how to make their own Macnas magic this Halloween.”
Maria Schweppe, who co-directs the festival alongside Lawlor said: “In a year where many events have been postponed or cancelled, we’re thrilled to present a programme for Bram Stoker Festival which brings adventure into people’s homes.”
There’s plenty to thrill people of all ages this year. One of the highlights this year is ‘ETERNAL’, for adults only, it’s a 20-minute immersive audio experience designed for one person to listen to alone in their bed. It explores the quandary of eternal life and wonders what price you might pay to achieve it! It uses binaural sounds to play tricks on your mind and get under your skin. “In Darkfield, the company behind ETERNAL, are world leaders in binaural sound experiences, which position the audience in the centre of an unfolding narrative,” explained Lawlor. “We approached them to see if they could develop a show specifically for the festival and it happened to tie in with the work they were already doing.”
Another element of this year’s festival is ‘Curse Hunters’. An interactive adventure game that is played through your phone, there is a series of interactive tasks, puzzles and challenges all that children will have to solve to save the universe from a spooky curse.
Another horrifying highlight of the festival this year will be the Irish premiere of ‘I AM NOT LEGEND’. A work of horror film art by Andrea Mastrovito, an Italian artist working in New York, it was created during the pandemic. It will be accompanied by a soundtrack from Irish composers Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon, it’s a “radical reinterpretation of George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead and will be an “action-packed, heart-stopper for anyone looking for Halloween thrills.”
There will be many other events running throughout the festival including an online streaming of Dracula’s Disco for little zombies and ghosts, a dedicated edition of Donal Fallon’s Three Castles Burning podcast, a remastered version of the RTÉ Players production of Dracula and a compelling and informative audio-visual presentation from Dacre Stoker, the great-grand-nephew of Bram Stoker.
The festival will run from the 30th of October to the 2nd of November. Most of the events are free with ticketed ones costing €6. You can sink your teeth into the full festival programme at www.bramstokerfestival.com.