"Night of the Living Dead" premiering at EU in time for Halloween weekend

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 at 10:16 PM
Night of the Living Dead premiering at EU in time for Halloween weekend by Anna Ashcraft

A woman walks in, hysterical, wielding a knife. She is crying and visibly upset. An unknown man shows up at the house and tries to comfort her, even though there are “things” outside and they know they’re not safe. As the scene progresses, more and more zombies begin to surround the house. This is just scene one of Josh Mizikowski’s adaptation of “Night of the Living Dead.”

“Our characters are locked in the house with an unknown amount of attackers outside and they don’t know what to do,” said Mason Kuhr — a student actor playing a zombie and Deputy George — as screams reverberate in the background during rehearsal.

Laugh/Riot Performing Arts Company will begin their fifth season with “Night of the Living Dead,” performed at Diebold Center for the Performing Arts. Opening night is Oct. 20 and the show will run through Oct. 30, just in time for Halloween. Mizikowski mentioned that if the APSCUF faculty strike were to happen — which the deadline is Oct. 19 — shows would go on as regularly scheduled.

Kuhr continued, “This is the perfect month to be doing Halloween shows. Halloween is my favorite. If I wasn’t a part of the show, and I was a student on campus — just because I love Halloween — I would totally go see this show. It’s just a perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit.”

EU’s performance of “Night of the Living Dead” follows a few couples through hell as they try to figure out what to do during this “zombie apocalypse.” The word zombie is never actually used in the play. They refer to zombies as “things” throughout the play.

Richard Kolbosky, a student actor playing Tom, said, “It starts out with two people stuck in this house and a little of the ways through, we find more people who are hiding in the basement. They come into the house and they are pretty much trying to decide what they should do during this emergency.”

Tom and Judy are a couple in there twenties who come to the house after hearing an emergency radio broadcast about a series of murders.

“Tom is very much, kind of trying to keep the peace. He tries to be very understanding in deciding and pretty much convinces everyone to stay upstairs — the people that are upstairs want to leave and get out,” Kolbosky said.

Everyone has different ideas of what to do during these tough times. They are all at war with each other over this life or death situation.

“We see a bunch of different ideologies. ‘Do we stay and hide? Do we run out and try to find the police? Do we fight back, do we not fight back?,’” Kuhr said. He continued, “I think it’s a good

He continued, “I think it’s a good vehicle to put the audience members in the peoples’ shoes. They talk about the risk. A good chunk of the show is them arguing whether to go into the cellar or not. Everyone has their own ideas, everyone wants different things, and everyone has different means of getting what they want out of people.”

Eric Richie, a student actor playing a zombie, said, “There have been two versions [of the movie], the original and the remake. I feel like it’s [Mizitowski’s adaptation of the play] kind of a mesh between the both. Josh used his creative freedoms and liberties to basically make this a more refreshing, updated version. Especially when it’s such a small theatre and production. It’s something you wouldn’t expect from a typical campus theatre — it’s very refreshing.”

There will be no gore shown on stage, but insinuated with sound effects and lighting.

“You don’t need blood and gore to scare. You need an atmosphere. That’s what’s great about a black box theatre, and what’s great about the Diebold Performing Arts Center. You’re in one little room with us; there’s not even a stage,” said Kuhr.

“Our set is five feet away from the audience. You’re with these characters. They’re scared and you’ll be scared too if you see the show.”

Just from watching the first scene, it’s obvious there will be a lot of action packed, suspense-filled scenes. Mizikowski explained that towards the end, the set will be entirely lit with “moonlight” — done with stage lighting — and candlelight with a graveyard in the background — where zombies are constantly roaming throughout the play.

“It adds more to what you don’t see, creating that kind of fear of what those shadows could possibly be covering up. Not being able to see how many actors or zombies kind of adds to that, because of the acoustics of the stage, it sounds like there’s an army, while there’s probably two back there right now,” Richie said.

The zombies will not be wearing typical zombie make-up. They look close to real people, just without the normal human motor function and body language.

“It’s disturbing, especially if you see someone that looks human, but they’re not, their walking or not giving the usual body language that we’re used to on a day to day basis — creepy,” Kuhr said.

“The stage lighting is going to give that eerie glow; it’s just a blue light with some shading on it,” Richie said. “I think that zombies are a huge fad right now — they never really

“I think that zombies are a huge fad right now — they never really went away. Especially in high school I had teachers who were in the ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and Pittsburgh has zombie walks this time of year. Everyone goes to Monroeville mall because that’s where ‘Dawn of the Dead’ was filmed. Pennsylvania is just the zombie capital of the U.S.”

Performances will run Oct. 20, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday Oct. 23 at 2:30 p.m. They will also run the next week: Oct. 27, 28, and 29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday Oct. 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Diebold Center for the Performing Arts.

Anna Ashcraft is a Managing Editor of Arts for The Spectator.

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