“We are setting up an environment for you, that when you first walk in, it makes you very aware of where you are – a feeling that something could possibly go wrong, or possibly has gone wrong,” said Tim Rosin, director of “The Haunting of Hill House.” “It’s definitely moody and spooky, and it’s almost pressure-building. I like to say that the house is a terrorist.”
Mood is vital for the Studio Season opener, about four would-be ghost hunters who visit a house with a dark reputation to do some exploring for paranormal activity. The weathered house is complemented by sound and lighting effects that create a heightened sense of awareness in the audience. It certainly does so for the characters in the play.
“While they’re there, one of them (Eleanor) comes to believe the house doesn’t want her to leave,” said Rosin, a second-year MFA directing candidate who directed “Venus in Fur” last season.
Despite the modern-day popularity of ghost hunting, the fascination with communicating with the great beyond – and the associated fear of unwelcomed responses – is an ancient phenomenon. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the ultra rational character Sherlock Holmes, for example, claimed to speak with the spirits of the dead.
“It’s one of those things that is common as you look back,” Rosin said. “For example, when Harry Houdini died, his wife had séances for years to try and contact him.”