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The School of Theatre Creates ‘CarnEvil,’ A Haunted House for Students

This Halloween season, the Theatre Building is getting a little spookier. With the help of some School of Theatre students, the building’s  Playhouse Theatre is now home to a haunted house entitled ‘CarnEvil.’

The 1920’s carnival themed haunted house is designed and built by students majoring in Design and Technology. The students used different types of technology such as video, sound, and lighting to create the spooky ambience to transform the stage into a terrifying maze.

By using automated show controls, students entertain and horrify the audience in every one of the 13 rooms of the haunted house. A lot of the technology used in the maze is motion-censored, and is set off by the person walking past the trigger, so be ready to be petrified when you least expect it.


Instead of using blood and guts to frighten the audience, the School of Theatre students use a more psychological approach. For instance, one room features a murderer throwing darts at your head with perfectly timed sound effects to trick you into thinking you were actually hit. “Once we get the timing down, the knife room is going to be terrifying,” said Sasha Scherlinsky, a design and technology major. “You just don’t expect what’s coming. The dart room is equally as terrifying.”

Each room of the maze has a camera so the crew can see when to set off sound and lighting cues. Behind the scenes of the production is a full monitoring system, complete with soundboards and monitors, watching the audience enter and exit each phase of the maze. “I love sitting and watching the cameras from behind the scenes,” Scherlinsky said. “I can’t wait for people who think that the maze is over to get to the final scare.”


Scherlinsky, the art director and production designer for the haunted maze, has been working on the show since April, and has big plans for the turnout this year. “Two years ago on Friday we had 400 people in line, so we had to close the ticket booth at 11:00 and ended up closing the show at 1:30 a.m. instead of 11 that night,” Scherlinsky said.

With CarnEvil six months in the making, it’s finally ready for this Halloween weekend. With a cast of 19 actors and a team of 10 people running the cameras, soundboards, and lighting, there are just over 30 people running CarnEvil altogether.

The haunted maze only happens every two years, but if you saw it two years ago, you won’t be seeing the same show as before. CarnEvil is very different than the 2013 haunted house, Dead State. The show features clowns, murderers, and fortunetellers. Plus, the intricate details of the sets are amazing, if you can keep your eyes open long enough to spot them. “What makes all of this worth it is seeing people go through with their friends,” Scherlinsky said. “I think that bonding experience is why I love doing this.”

CarnEvil opens in the Playhouse Theatre October 28 from 7-10 p.m. and October 29-31 from 7-11 p.m. with a $5 admissions fee. If you’re not a fan of blood-curdling horror, a family friendly show is offered October 30 from 5-6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

About the Author

Claire Going

Claire is a freshman broadcast journalism major and writer for Onward State. She enjoys reading, running, and a good cup of tea. She's from Emmaus, Pennsylvania and is a dual citizen. (Go Ireland!) You can contact her via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @claire_going.


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