Last year, In the House Festival's haunted house explored various aspects of hell. This year, evil fairies get their wings.
"There's this notion of fairies that's all very Tinker Bell and Disney and sweet," said Myriam Steinberg, artistic director of In the House, which hosts themed monthly performances in private homes, drawing artists from various genres. "But what happens when fairies go wrong?"
Those who dare will find out at the House of Faerie Bad Things, Oct. 29 to 31. The frightful event unfolds in a secret, but central, location that is revealed only to ticket buyers.
"Basically, the overarching premise of this show, the loose thing on which we're basing it, is humans are screwing up the earth, the fairies are pissed. And they're kind of getting their revenge," Steinberg said.
Haunted house-goers will see 15 performances on the hour-long journey through warren-like environments that have been cloaked, in parts, with creepy, long rustling faux grass, filled with freaky soundscapes and shrouded with forest fronds.
In The House seeks to mix the mythical, the magical and the macabre with aerial circus, film, puppetry, theatre, physical comedy, opera, hula hooping and belly dance.
Singer-songwriter Joanna Chapman-Smith plays from a cage of bare trees in "the heart of the forest" realm, amid giant toadstools.
The next room is themed "the red cap," a reference to the pointy hats of seemingly innocuous garden gnomes, who often appear to be modelled after the dwarves in Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
"What's little known is they actually dye their caps with the blood of humans," Steinberg said.
Chris Murdoch, co-producer of the House of Faerie Bad Things, notes the origins of Sleeping Beauty are also rather chilling.
"Sleeping Beauty was actually about necrophilia," he said. "Little Red Riding Hood was about pedophilia and family relations and killing each other's families, so there's a lot of dark content in old fairytales and we're calling on a little bit of that for this."
Murdoch, a circus performer who teaches at CircusWest, became fascinated with mythology when he studied it at theatre school. He became intrigued by the work of American mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell and exploring why people tell certain stories at certain times throughout history.
"I'm interested in that as a reflection of our collective unconscious, what we're all thinking at certain times," Murdoch said.
He also worked at the Dragonspace shop on Granville Island, which sells fairy wares, and worked with fantasy illustrator Brian Froud, whose design concepts were featured in Jim Henson's 1982 fantasy film The Dark Crystal and the 1986 film Labyrinth.
"Some people actually follow fairy as almost a religion or a day-to-day thing," Murdoch said. "They listen to them and communicate with them, the same way that people communicate with angels or what have you."
Those who want to commune with fairies for at least one night need to get their tickets quick. Passes to the unknown were two-thirds sold out as of Tuesday night. Hosted and narrated tours that accommodate 15 visitors each begin at 6: 15 p.m. and start every half hour. The House of Faerie Bad Things culminates with an after party Oct. 31 that's free to tour participants, with tickets available to others for $10.
For more information, see inthehousefestival.com.
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