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The Haunting of Perish Hall

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A Companion piece to the podcast hosted by Tricia Black

(Disclaimer:  This is a work of FICTION, and an experiment in the adaptation of theatre and theatrical storytelling in these Covid times.  It should not be assumed that anything in this article, or in the accompanying audio presentation bears any resemblance to real life events…or DOES it?…….No.  It doesn’t……..or DOES it????)

Fall.  Sometime in the last decade.  An otherwise indefinable time of rehearsing, writing, and workshopping a new show.  Tweed & Company Theatre has assembled a cast of familiar faces.  They have been rehearsing non stop at the St. Edmund’s Parish hall, and on this particular evening, going late to test the lights and sound system, something happens.  Something that none of them expected, and something that is altogether quite hard to describe.  And in fact, if you ask that group of actor musicians who were there that night what exactly happened, they may all tell you something different.  But what was that sound?  That far from human cry.  And what did those actors see?

Are you curious about that sound?  Enter Tricia Black, Tweed & Company’s Creative Director, and frequent performer/writer/composer.  Trish just happened to be in the cast of that musical, and also just happens to have been rolling a rehearsal tape when the event occurred.  That event is the first thing you hear when you tune in to ‘The Haunting of Perish Hall’ a new one-off audio podcast hosted by Trish.  “This event has haunted me (pun intended) since it occurred, and I really just wasn’t ever able to shake the feeling it gave me,” says Trish.  “I knew I had to explore it further.  I knew I had to return to Tweed…”   

So they grab their recording equipment, their diary, and a mysterious letter that had arrived a short time earlier, and hit the road.  Along the way they pull in to the countless atmospheric pioneer cemeteries that line our rural highways.  Taking some etchings, and hiking through the headstones, fallen leaves crunching underfoot, and scenic lakeside views taking their breath away.  But they don’t find what they are looking for. 

Arrival in Tweed.  First stop, of course, a return visit to St. Edmunds Hall.  The hall is dusty from a year of misuse, and looks spooky and abandoned, almost like the site of a fictional Halloween podcast.  But the door is ajar.  Creeping in, Trish is aware of another presence, and removes an old fashioned recorder from their bag.  Rounding a corner and confident they are moments away from pay dirt, Trish bumps straight into the woman who keeps the keys and maintains the hall.  They chat briefly but the conversation bears little fruit, other than the suggestion that Trish stop in at the local information hot spot to see what can be gleaned there.

The Tweed Heritage Centre.  Brimming with information, and overflowing with historical documents, Trish bypasses the volunteers at the front desk, breezes past local Legend Evan Morton, even as he praises her recent television appearances, and wanders in to the bowels of the building, stumbling upon the woman they are there to meet, the lesser known basement historian who isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  “One of the things I’m finding most complicated about this case is that no one seems to be willing…or perhaps, able…to discuss it.  The second I mention this mysterious woman, it’s like”-

And that’s when I stopped them.  Because to be honest, I’m not willing to talk about it either.  We all know what will happen if we say her name…or tell any part of her story out loud…

BUT, anyways, back to Trish.

After a small amount of luck at the heritage centre, Trish decides to wander over to the Tweedsmuir for an afternoon pick me up, and to see what the local gossips have to say.  Boy oh boy do they get more than they bargained for.  Trish meets a man.  A man they feel they have met before.  A man that unlike everyone else, won’t stop talking. 

After a lovely fall stroll through town past the beautiful window display at Quinn’s of Tweed Fine Art Gallery, the many vibrant antique and vintage stores, across the Green Bridge, checking out the historic plaque at the old Tweed Playhouse, past the pavilion…honestly, pretty much across the entire town (this guy will not stop talking), they finally arrive, almost as if by fate, back at the St. Edmund’s Parish Hall. 

For all he does know, he still doesn’t have the answer to Trish’s most pressing question.  Where was this woman’s final resting place?  Is the spirit that appears so frequently at the hall a real woman? A Figure from the past?  And if so, her body must be near by, or why keep returning to this spot? 

Enter the last foggy figure of our play… a man shrouded in mystery, and a stained pair of coveralls.  The groundskeeper of the St. Edmund’s Cemetery…and not only does this man know the woman they are seeking.  He knows where she’s buried…But really…I’ve already said too much.  Not only do I not want to give away the whole podcast, but I also don’t want to keep talking about her in case she comes to haunt me tonight.  Click to listen to the eerie audio show. Follow Tweed & Company Theatre on Facebook and Instagram.

We hope that this little experiment has been engaging and entertaining for you, and if nothing else has inspired you to get out for a fall stroll, and experience the rich arts and cultural heritage our region has to offer.  Artists in particular are struggling this year, still un-able to return to our careers for the foreseeable future, and we are so grateful for opportunities like this to interact with our audience, be creative and experimental, and hopefully provide some sort of respite and entertainment for our incredible audiences here in Hastings County.  We miss you, and look forward to preparing many more theatrical articles for you in the coming months.

Stay well, and remember… don’t talk about her… but you CAN listen.  We’ll see you soon.  We hope…

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