This weekend the Society of the Unseen Hand will transform the visitors center in Central Park into the headquarters for their Victorian-era ghost hunting society.
Society founder Damon Aldridge will welcome guests into the headquarters, which features displays of their various ghost hunting apparatuses. Aldridge will introduce visitors to a medium who will serve as their guide on a 45 minute walking tour of Central Park and Old Louisville, where they will attempt to contact spirits around the historic neighborhood.
The Society, Aldridge, the medium and any ghosts or ghouls that visitors encounters from that point on are all a part of “Victorian Tales of Terror,” an all new, immersive theater experience presented by the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council.
Written and directed by Chazz Peterson and his partner Daniel Gatlin, “Tales of Terror” is a Halloween experience for people who like the scares to be a little more reserved. The tour is a far cry from the blood-spattered haunted attractions you may be familiar with.
“It’s very different. This is really much more of an atmospheric kind of thing. No one is going to jump out at you,” said Peterson. With a collection of stories and a variety of scenes “there is a surprise ending a couple of times. It’s a chilling, spooky experience.”
The tour melds old fashioned ghost stories, courtesy of your guide, with scenes and monologues featuring more than 40 actors.
The show is set in 1905, at the height of the Victorian ghost craze. Peterson says that the show this year is purposefully very Victorian.
“[The] stories fit the neighborhood, and the other thing we tried to do this year is bring in elements of actual Victorian Penny Dreadfuls, so there will be characters like Barney the Vampire, or references to Spring-heel Jack. We tried to make the show as truly Victorian as it could possible be.”
“Penny Dreadful” is a term used to described cheap popular horror entertainment of the era. The stories were very sensational, soaked in blood and terror, and they were printed on low quality paper so they only cost a penny.
The tour stretches out through Central Park, down 6th Street, and across St. James Court, with a stop at the Caldwell Mansion, so you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the historic architecture, if you can pry your eyes off the action.
Most of the actors are neighborhood residents, like Susan Coleman Layman. “I have lived in Old Louisville for 26 years and been involved in pretty much every activity that has occurred in the time that I have lived here,” said Layman.
This year Layman is playing a witch and has played a few other ghosts and ghouls in her time as an Old Louisvillian. She loves her neighborhood. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. It’s a responsibility and a privilege to contribute,” said Layman.
Since “Victorian Tales” is staffed 100 percent by volunteers, all proceeds go to benefit the neighborhood council.
If you are looking for a great Halloween activity, but prefer your scares more spooky than splattered, “Victorian Tales of Terror” may be exactly what you are looking for.
The Society of the Unseen Hand has a pretty terrific Facebook page, be sure to check it out.