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AmyWoodruffArtist

A Halloween Treat: My Only Ghost (?) Experience

The Copper family "ghost" photo.
The web-famous Copper family “ghost” photo.

Because you all know I adore the creepy stuff …

Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1992

I was in college, and one of my very best friends (and occasional boyfriend) was rather superstitious. His latest deathly fear was that the house where he lived with his parents was currently occupied by some type of malevolent entity, such as a spirit, demon, or space alien. The house was the innocent kind of 1960s-era brick structure that was least likely to inspire tales of horror. All the same, his parents were going on a cruise for several days, and he was convinced he could not stay in the house alone, lest he meet his demise. Being the invincible skeptic that I tend to be, I offered to stay the weekend with him to assuage his fears. I also kind of thought it would be funny to watch him be scared out of his wits by his own overactive imagination.

I arrived in the early evening and we watched some VHS movies in the living room, snacking in front of the television. As the night progressed, we turned off the TV and begin to chat, lounging comfortably on the carpet of the living room floor. We were never the most affectionate couple, but we were very compatible when it came to animated conversation. The room was at the back of the house: it had a sliding glass door that opened onto a small back patio, and a large window opposite that overlooked a large courtyard at the front of the house that was enclosed completely on three sides. At each side of the window, hallways led to the left and right into the other two wings of the house, which together with the living room/kitchen wing, made a square-ish ‘C’ shape that hugged the courtyard.

We were still there in the living room when, perhaps around midnight, our conversation was abruptly cut short. For some inexplicable reason, I quickly looked at the window that overlooked the courtyard, expecting to see something looking in at us, but there was nothing visible. My friend turned a shade of ashen gray; I thought the poor boy was going to faint. Regardless, his fear no longer seemed an entertaining non-issue to me — whereas previously I had just about ignored his claims with a completely blasé attitude, I could tune him out no longer. An intense feeling of oppressive dread had overtaken me, sharply interrupting a completely innocuous conversation that would not have provoked such sensations.
“You saw something?” he asked timidly.
“No,” I told him, not wanting to scare him unnecessarily. However, I couldn’t just lie to him. “I … ‘felt’ something.”

“Felt something?!” he inquired. He was on the verge of panic.
“Well … yeah,” I said, choosing my words as carefully as I could.
“Who was it?” he asked.
“Who?… well, I don’t know about who…” I began, and then, without thinking, blurted out “But I know that it was standing on its hind legs.”
“WHAT?!” he cried. “Oh, Jesus Christ… standing on its hind legs?!”
I cringed. This was obviously not the most tactful way to deliver such a disturbing instinctive impression to a friend with a fearful nature. Not to mention the fact that I realize the mightiness of the power of suggestion, and I was nowhere near convinced of my own deductions. “Hey, look, it was probably nothing,” I insisted. “I just got the heebie-jeebies, that’s all. We didn’t ‘see’ anything.”

He looked at me blankly. He obviously wanted to trust my confidence, as shaky as it had become. However, he was already convinced, thanks to his own previous ‘sensations’ of a presence, and of being watched. Honestly, though, I still wasn’t convinced. In fact, I was quite ready to write this entire moment off as a robust case of The Creeps. We went on to bed.

We went to his room: there was no way he was sleeping in there alone, he assured me. His bedroom was at the end of the hall that came off the living room to the left, so it was the anchor to the left side of the courtyard (the right side of the house if you were facing it from the street). This hallway also included two other bedrooms and a bathroom, and the hall was lined with cabinets and a counter-like shelf on which decorative trinkets were displayed. In his room we talked a few moments longer, and then settled down to sleep, the door locked and the lights off. We were both a little rattled, but I’m a pretty decent sleeper so it didn’t take long for me to slip into a peaceful doze… Until the smash.

My friend and I both shook awake, the sound of a crash down the hallway jolting us from our quiet. We lay there for a few seconds, both frozen in fear, at which point my friend very quietly whispered, “Did… you… hear… that?”

“Yes,” I quietly said in return, the sense of dread incredibly powerful this time. It was undeniable; my skepticism had vanished like so much smoke. Mere seconds after our furtive verbal exchange, a riotous cacophony exploded from the hallway: a sound resembling stomping feet, slamming cabinet doors, walls being pummeled by a body and/or heavy objects that might have been flying off shelves. We lay there, stiff as boards, listening to the fury in the hall that seemed to be getting closer and closer to the bedroom door.

And then, probably three seconds after it began, it ended in a heartbeat, with the violent slamming of the heavy wooden exterior gate-door that separated the courtyard from the front lawn of the house.

We knew at that moment that whatever had unleashed its fury on the hall had left the premises for the night. We were too terrified to leave the room, however, and stayed the night there in a fitful slumber without further incident.

The following morning, we investigated the hallway. No objects were disturbed, and there was no physical evidence of the previous night’s rampage whatsoever. Within a year, he and his family moved out of the house and purchased a more desirable property.

[Originally published at http://ghostvillage.com/encounters/2008/05162008.shtml on May 16, 2008.]

“Moon Cove” Throwback Tale

Completely pleased with the new work I’ve done with the Moon Cove digital projection — it truly looks better than ever: great new images, enhanced editing, and my latest equipment/software combination is superb. I’ve got three more performances in this run.

The projection wasn’t always so rosy, however. It’s always been a thorn in my side. Here’s a look back at one of the most notable projection issues I’ve had with this show:

Moon Cove debuted at the fifteenth Dramarama festival, which was in April 2008 at the Contemporary Arts Center. That rendition of the performance, while important to do, was a bit of a disaster. My nerves were shot and I kind of destroyed the script while onstage. Additionally, an issue with the projection arose. The projected images are supposed to make it appear that I’m standing in a landscape, with the images preferably six or more feet in height, starting from stage level — the projection is the “scenery.”

But about twenty minutes before showtime, I found out that due to the position of the images via rear

She's not so scary when she's tiny.
She’s not so scary when she’s so tiny.

projection, it would indeed be seen from the floor level of the stage as planned — but the projection would only be about two and a half feet tall.

Seriously.

I felt like I was in the Stonehenge scene in This is Spinal Tap. It was ridiculous. I performed the show awkwardly, trying to keep from blocking the projection completely with my legs.

After the performance, my younger sister, who had been distributing playbills, whispered a deadpan joke: “You know, all you had to do was just step on that fifolet.” I laughed … but that night was pure agony.

“I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf.”

– David St. Hubbins, This is Spinal Tap

 

Three more shows! Performances info is on the Moon Cove page.

Three Weekends of “Moon Cove”

2008_mooncove_toussaintThe latest, never-before-seen version of my original solo show Moon Cove will be onstage in just a few short weeks!

I’m proud to say that Moon Cove has gradually become a mix of the best of my works’ qualities: strong experimental performing arts, meticulous detail in atmosphere, character, and physical execution, recent advances in digital projection technology, and story elements that are (from what I’m often told) intricate, emotionally intense, fairly eerie, and a bit of a head trip. (Heheh.)

You know, one of the most exciting things about this show for me has been the many incarnations in which it has existed. I think I can safely say this is, at the very least, the sixth draft of Moon Cove. I’m really feeling the home stretch, as if this may be the final, best version. For example, in 2015 I got some great insights from a trusted loved one that helped me take the script apart and put it back together again … which resulted in a stronger, spookier, and overall more potent version. That was incredibly satisfying! One of the playhouseNOLA combo imagesmany things that happened during that process? I rearranged the scenes!! The story still happens in relatively the same order, but the new order of the scenes made unbelievably strong differences that I’m so pleased with.

Additionally, I’m (as always) refining both the digital projection footage into something much more impressive through re-edits and added imagery, and by obtaining better technology all the time … new equipment, software, etc. These elements also appear to be reaching their apex, which is a dream come true, as Moon Cove is so personal and important for me.

And of course, the actual performance that I physically do live onstage every time Moon Cove is presented evolves all the time, into a more powerful entity, like a muscle being honed. Which can’t happen without the spectators in each and every audience. It’s a give-and-take, back and forth, which generates creativity through the most pure, human means possible.

But to be deadly honest here: quite unfortunately, as many times as I’ve performed Moon Cove, very few people have actually seen it. So if you haven’t yet seen it, this is the ultimate time to do so. And if you have seen it, then I thank you deeply for being one of those special folks, and I humbly request that you join my marketing effort, and spread the word (and perhaps you’d enjoy checking out a different, more exciting version yourself?). Tell all those you know who appreciate unique experiences!

Because those who have seen earlier versions of Moon Cove in the past have really said great things about it … not to mention the positive press reviews, which you can read on my website!

Moon Cove details are located on my artist website here, including a full description of the show, its performance history, and info on the upcoming run. Also, be sure to check out the trailer video, also there!

The latest shows will run for three weekends on Fridays & Saturdays at 9pm, from July 29 – August 13. Tickets are $10 and performances will take place at Playhouse NOLA, 3214 Burgundy Street, in downtown New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood. I’ve included images of the space just for fun.

REALLY hope to see you all there!

Love, Amy