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The ScareHouse Basement, Pittsburgh 2013

"It’s very, very troubling. But it’s also one of the only places, worldwide, where a Halloween attraction has been elevated to the level of high art." -Pittsburgh City Paper

As Creative Consultant for The Basement, Glenn helped create a new, original horror-themed attraction in 2013. As a member of a 4-person creative team, Glenn conceptualized production; drafted scenes; mapped traffic flow; auditioned cast; polled test audiences and provided rehearsal feedback; wrote director notes throughout rehearsals and early into the run.

Audience members entered alone or with one other person and signed a waiver allowing them to be touched or restrained. They then progressed through a series of 3-minute scenes in which one or more characters would directly interact and challenge them in unexpected ways.

  • The Guard

    It was difficult to tell if the guard at the door (performed by Cindy Jackson) was the real thing or a performer as she explained to you the rules of The Basement. Having the audience questioning her authenticity while taking in a list of rules helped to put them on edge before even entering the haunt. Audience were given a safe word ("bunny") to use if they needed leave the experience at any moment.
  • The Ritual

    A meditative, yet unsettling soundscape used in the entry to the ScareHouse Basement each year from 2013 to 2015.
  • Happy the Clown

    Performer Bonnie Banner brought a uniquely terrifying take on a haunted house staple: the demented circus clown. Visitors encountered her last. Had she been earlier in the order, the creative team feared that too many guests would use the safe word and leave.
  • The Nurse

    Sociologist Margee Kerr, member of the Basement creative team, gave scientific backing to each experience designed to induce fear. No surprise that a medical needle, pictured here with performer Tracy Campbell, is high on the fear list, but deploying it for maximum effect was not straightforward. While it would seem easy to scare people in such a controlled environment, any moment could fall flat if the theatrics and timing were poorly executed.
  • The Reader

    The Basement focused more on character and performance than is typical of a haunted attraction. Performers were auditioned from a pool of applicants with a background in theater and specifically immersive performance. The creative team then worked with each performer to devise their characters and refine their routines. Here, Ayne Terceira, a skilled improvisational artist, played a psychic who would perform an unscripted tarot reading for the visitor. The reading would take a turn when the visitor discovers they themselves have died.

Music, Sound, Video 2008-2011

Glenn began writing and recording music at a young age, first on acoustic guitar, then on simple multi-track devices, eventually evolving into using all the wondrous technology now available to home recordists. These song selections represent his more recent work, from indie rock to electronica to ambient soundscapes. This project also contains original videos Glenn created to accompany some of his songs.

Delirium Dog emerged from the need to create original music for the haunted attraction "Delirium 3-D" which began as one of three offerings at The ScareHouse in Pittsburgh in 2009. Glenn was asked to produce an original set of compositions in a "Techno Goth" style which played throughout the haunt. Having just released his first solo album as "Lunatic Dog," Glenn thought that "Delirium Dog" would make for a fun, but temporary alter-ego. Due to the music's popularity online, Glenn released two albums as Delirium Dog: "The ScareHouse" in 2009 and "FEVER BRAIN BATTERY" in 2011. He has done work under that name ever since.

  • Cotton Mouth

    From the 2008 album "70 West" by Lunatic Dog, composed, performed, and recorded by Glenn Ricci. "70 West" is a trip of road trip songs. On this track that closes the album, Glenn captures the feeling of an adventure coming to a close as one ponders where future roads may lead.
  • Vortex [Official Video]

    Song from 2011 album by Delirium Dog, composed and recorded by Glenn Ricci. Original motion graphics by Glenn Ricci.
  • Out

    From the 2008 album "70 West" by Lunatic Dog, composed, performed, and recorded by Glenn Ricci. Additional vocals by Ursula Marcum.
  • Squeeks [Official Video]

    Directed, shot, and edited by Glenn with the cast of Delirium 3-D and many, many balloons. Music composed and recorded by Glenn.
  • T.O.L.S.

    From the 2009 release by Delirium Dog, T.O.L.S. uses original samples of accordion, guitar, and drums blended with synthesized instruments to create a powerful, pulsing soundscape.
  • Glenn Ricci 2009 Interview at Scarehouse

    This interview provides an overview of Glenn's sound design work for ScareHouse in 2009. Shot and edited by Glenn Syska.
  • Self-Portrait in Neon Tunnel

    Glenn creates new art and a visual sense of place for each of his recordings. This long-exposure photo captures the illusion of Glenn dancing through a rotating tunnel of neon lights. This effect was created entirely in-camera with no additional manipulation.
  • Standing

    From the 2008 album "70 West" by Lunatic Dog, composed, performed, and recorded by Glenn Ricci.
  • Absinthe Cola [Official Music Video]

    Song from 2011 album by Delirium Dog, composed and recorded by Glenn Ricci. Video shot, directed, and edited by Glenn Ricci.
  • Awaken

    Opening track from Delirium Dog's second album, FEVER BRAIN BATTERY.

Character Portraits and Transmedia Storytelling

In order to conjure the atmosphere of a fully-realized world, information about "The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe" was released online many months before opening the doors to the public. Publishing character details, video, historical references, stylized imagery, and other information for the audience to find before or after their visit helped to deepen and reinforce their on-site experience. The intended effect was to create the sense of an ever-widening mystery and a story that no single person will be able to fully comprehend. Indeed, several audience members returned more than two, five, even a dozen times in order to experience it all and attempt to solve the mystery.

The music composed for the video (with vocals removed) became part of the show's continuous soundtrack.

  • Extending the Narrative

    Maintaining the same peculiar voice through Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and email correspondence, Glenn broadened the world of the show to include any online interaction. Additional details about the show, such as the song lyrics pictured here, letters, photos, and historical documents, all served as extensions to the on-site experience.
  • Roderick (as portrayed by Nick Genna)

    Roderick, described as a "Butler and servant to the house" seen here with a book that itself contained many clues about the house and its inhabitants. Audience members could sneak glances at the pages at moments in the evening when he would open it to consult or write inside.
  • Auguste (as portrayed by David Brasington)

    This portrait captures Auguste, the detective, interacting with the materials on a wall where he is building his "case."
  • Sarah (as portrayed by Ann Turiano)

    The added texture was created by overlaying blank historic daguerreotypes (from the Library of Congress's collection) over the modern image. The images were then slightly desaturated, but not fully, so as to create a blend of both historic- and hyper-realism.
  • Eliza (as portrayed by Sarah Gretchen Heiderman)

    Portrait of Eliza at her dressing table, one of the many explorable set pieces accessible tot he audience.
  • Sarah (as played by Shannon Graham)

    This character portrait of the character Sarah was used in many articles around the web.
  • Eliza (Jenna Rossman)

    Character portrait for Eliza. This photo was featured in the Baltimore City Paper, accompanying an article about the show.
  • Teaser Trailer for "Mesmeric Revelations!"

    In the very early stages of the show's development, before any performers had been cast, any location identified, or scenes devised, Glenn produced this trailer to create excitement and interest in the project. Using a macro focus technique, the video evokes a sense of place, history, texture, and context without exposing a great deal of content. Most of the details shown, however, were embedded in the sets and story of the working show.
  • Mesmeric Word Mark

    The title as an original word mark, fashioned in the style of a late-1800's poster advertisement for a demonstration of mesmerism. The eye inside the "O" became the icon, avatar, and logo across all online platforms. The facer of the girl pictured, who's name is lost to history, also appears inside a locket that was given to one audience member per night.

The Stranger

Role: Concept, Design, Producer, Co-director. Devised by subset of larger ensemble.

The Stranger was a self-contained one-to-one experience added to the Fall Edition of "The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe." Periodically throughout the evening a basket would descend from the floor above containing a note with instructions. Those instructions would lead to a room upstairs and a character who was only seen by 5-6 audience members per evening. Many found their encounter with The Stranger deeply moving.

  • Sand Cleansing

    The ritual concluded with the guest cleansing their hands with black sand.
  • Wall of Names

    After channeling a first-person account ending with the the loss of a loved one, the guest would be invited to write down the name of someone they had lost. They would then be led to a separate room where the guest added their name to a wall containing many others. Performer: Martha Robichaud. Extending the experience even further. the names will be collected and "released" during a ceremony weeks after the closing of Mesmeric Revelations. Visitors will be welcome to attend.
  • Historical Sources

    The hundreds of paper scraps on the floor were replicas of historical documents related to the stories told by The Stranger.
  • Mop, Card, Box

    Simple props used for The Stranger experience. The guest is asked to choose a card from the box, which prompts The Stranger to channel a particular tale of loss.
  • The Stranger's Room

    A handful of guests each evening are invited to climb the servant's stairs and enter the private room where The Stranger resides. Most of the audience below were oblivious to her presence or the experiences of these few audience members. Designed more simply than other rooms, The Stranger would mop her papers into a circle where the visitor would stand and hear one of a set of stories about loss. The paper would later be used to write names of those who have been lost.
  • Anonymous and Mysterious

    The identity and very existence of The Stranger was kept secret until the last weeks of the run. Halfway into the Fall run, notice was first posted on Facebook (accompanying this image) that "on certain nights, certain visitors" may encounter the character. For all but a few, their experience was entirely a surprise.

The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe

Role: Concept, Producer, Co-director, Sound Designer. Devised with Ensemble.

"The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe," a many-layered immersive theater experience that ran through the Spring and Fall of 2015. The audience would freely explore the first floor of the Enoch Pratt House and observe one or more of nine overlapping stories based Poe's life and fiction. With a focus on the women in Poe's life, the fully devised work incorporated movement, spoken word, song, explorable sets, and private character encounters all synchronized to a 2-hour continuous soundtrack. After a sold-out run in Spring 2015, the show was remounted with additional characters and a double cast for three more months of shows in Fall 2015.

Press quotes:

"'The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe' proved that there are many corridors of the poet's mind yet to explore."
-Baltimore City Paper

"Surprisingly unpredictable, each performance draws a small circle of theatre goers into a world both bizarre and beautiful."
-Baltimore Post-Examiner

"Poe himself is not present, but is everywhere in the atmosphere."
-Hyperallergic

"An intensely immersive theatrical experience like no other in Baltimore, Washington, or any of the surrounding metropolitan areas, 'The Mesmeric Revelations! Of Edgar Allan Poe' is quickly becoming Baltimore’s own 'Sleep No More'".
-TheatreBloom

"'Revelations!' is like going to a haunted house run by everybody’s favorite 'cool' AP English teacher...It’s the nevermost."
-The Bad Oracle

  • Hidden Areas, Secrets Disclosed

    In addition to the main floor where most of the scenes play out in full view, there were rooms upstairs and downstairs that could only be accessed by a character's invitation. In the pictured upstairs hallway, guests would be privy to a number of scenes performed for only one person per evening.
  • Virginia on Piano

    Virginia, a character inspired by Poe's wife, was portrayed by Natanya Sheva Washer (pictured) and Deirdre McAllister. For the first roughly thirty minutes, Virginia is exploring her parlor as if completely blind. She experiences a series of deaths, each of which transforms and evolves her character. The Parlor, her home base, was full of explorable objects, open-able boxes, and a collection of books hand-selected to enrich the overall atmosphere and context of the world.
  • Eliza on Stairs

    Madeline looks on as Eliza performs Ophelia's death from Hamlet (as told by Gertrude) many times over until delirious. Eliza Poe, Edgar's mother, had played Ophelia on stage and much of Eliza's text in Mesmeric Revelations was derived from the ill-fated Shakespeare character. Additional resonance comes from the detective Auguste, who investigates the bodies of two women dredged up from a river.
  • Auguste Monoluges

    Auguste, portrayed by Alexander Scally and David Brasington (pictured) speaks over 2500 words of text throughout the two-hour performance. Here, he is illustrating time and train schedules using available materials. The character is based on C. Auguste Dupin, the first and original detective created by Poe. Auguste in "Mesmeric Revelations" finds his use of logic to be failing him in a world that is governed by different rules.
  • Eliza and Madeline

    Madeline (right) is distraught as Eliza (left) attempts one last drowning. Madeline, The Keeper of the House, was portrayed by Caitlin Weaver (pictured) and Siobhan Beckett. The character Eliza, portrayed by Sarah Gretchen Heiderman (pictured) and Jenna Rossman, was inspired by Poe's real life mother, an admired actress who died when Edgar was barely three years old. Her environment contained elements of both stage and backstage.
  • Soundtrack Excerpt from Mesmeric Revelations

    A snippet of music and sound that play during the final act, when narratives unravel and the fabric of the world begins to tear. Composed and recorded by Glenn Ricci, the full soundtrack is over two hours long with a mixture of music and soundscapes scoring every moment of the action. The soundtrack was composed concurrently with the rest of the devising process, resulting in a fully integrated set of themes and cues that unified the nine separate narratives. In addition to the main soundtrack, three private areas also had independently running soundscapes.
  • Barkeep and Sarah

    Barkeep, played by Lisi Stoessel (pictured right) and Caitlin Bousein, offers a paper rose and a glass of sand to Sarah, played by Ann Turiano (pictured left) and Shannon Graham. The character of Sarah was inspired by Sarah Helen Whitman, a poet, spiritualist, and fiancee of Poe's. Barkeep, an androgynous amalgam of Poe's characters, slowly discovers what and who they are over the course of the performance.
  • Ballroom Scene

    All characters converge for the first time during a ballroom scene at the end of Act I. As Virginia (right, played by Natanya Sheva Washer) enters, time begins to warp.
  • Workshopping

    The Spring Edition of "Mesmeric Revelations" was devised over a nine-month period, starting in July 2014. The six original performers worked with the creative team to develop material off-site until early 2015 when they began assembling scenes in the Enoch Pratt House. Props, sounds, and sets were developed concurrently. For the Fall Edition, ten additional performers joined the original group and the double-cast of 16 spent ten more weeks learning and re-devising the piece for a more complex Fall Edition of the experience.
  • Trailer for Fall 2015 Edition of "The Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe"

    Video directed and edited by Glenn Ricci. Video footage for this trailer was shot during a single performance of "Mesmeric Revelations" with audience members wearing body-mounted cameras. All sound and music, composed and recorded by Glenn Ricci, is also a part of the live performance.

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About Glenn

A Baltimore resident since 2000, Glenn Ricci has been working with time-­based multimedia for over two decades. Through a combination of artistic disciplines, he attempts to make new connections between disparate ideas and invite his audience to take a fresh look at familiar subjects. In recent years,... more

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