Back at the beginning of September I can honestly say I’d never heard of Scare Acting. Then one evening on the way back from playing some music in Norwich my good friend Ken Connor said “I’ve got an audition as a scare actor in PrimEvil at the Dinosaur Park”. I got him to explain and said I wouldn’t mind doing that so when he dropped me home and got himself home he sent me a link, and I applied right away and was lucky enough to get an audition the day before Ken’s.
I have to say I really didn’t like this process and in one exercise some over zealous young tosser ran into my hand and really hurt my wrist, I resisted punching the little shit or making a fuss and after a few more humiliating exercises I had secured a place as a Scare team member. There was a great deal of over enthusiastic youngsters doing a lot of screaming and I was glad when the whole process was over and we did a fun ghost train/conga trust exercise.
One of the most interesting people I met at the audition was Bo the make up artist and special effects creator, who I would later have do my make up and really enhance my natural ugliness and age. I now have a rough idea what I might look like when I’m dead!
I missed the induction day and few training days while on holiday in Majorca, trying not to catch the sun as a sun tanned Zombie was not gonna cut the mustard! On my return I was a bit jealous of Ken as he was given an assistant ticket taker position in the Mayhem Manor Hotel. While I was a lowly Janitor in a lonely boiler room at the other end of the attraction but at least we were working together, and our team leader was a lovely woman called Laura. Dress rehearsal and preview (Press & Friends night) was fun and I began to settle into my boiler room position.
On my arrival at the Park on the first public performance I was approached by Ben and Helen (Director and Chief) and told I was to be moved to The Crypt attraction and would be an assistant ticket taker, as “my dialogue was good” (polite for you’re a gobby bastard!)
To my joy I was given a dog collar and informed I’d be a Vicar. It was a bit daunting taking on the health and safety instructions I’d have to relay to each group of people and think about developing the Vicar character. I’d say it took me about 3 evenings to grasp it all, and start to nail the Dublin accent of Father Anto of St Cuthberts.
I hadn’t taken into consideration quite a few people would not be able to understand the accent and on a couple of occasions when I said tickets they thought I’d said Chickens to which I replied “Please make your way inside and Mother Superior will clip your ticket or pluck your Chickens!”
Mother Superior / Sister Agnes was my saviour played by Keshar Whitelock who quickly put me at my ease, and during the quieter moments we chatted and became great pals and had a great laugh.
Team leader Sebastian was a great bloke too, as well as being very professional for one so young, a real credit to his Mother ‘Beverley’ or in this case “Petunia” an imposing psychotic hockey stick wielding school girl complete with lisp and the devil in her.
Jack & Penny made up the rest of the crypt team, Penny being replaced by Helen after a week or so due to illness. There was quite a bit of absence through illness, I think this was due to the intensity of performances in constantly changing temperatures. I did notice a few people could not speak at the end of a shift. It was very heavy going on the vocal chords and when I had an evening off to perform a gig I realised how much easier it is to sing into a microphone for 2 full hour, than it is to shout instructions at the public for 5 hours.
The camaraderie among actors was great, supporting each other and chatting about the difficult and the fun things that can happen during a 5 hour improvised performance, when you are dealing with the public. At times I wasn’t as observant as I should have and on one occasion just before I sent a group of young men into the attraction one of them threw up, it is easy to tell when people you know are drunk but strangers are quite a different matter.
One evening a group of people queuing were smoking and as I started to tell them to put their fags out, I noticed a woman I knew and so started to chastise her using her name, I can honestly say she was petrified. Even when she had been through the attraction and I tried to calm her down by telling her who I was, she was still too scared and eager to get away from me and the attraction.
It was quite peculiar how some people that only know me vaguely through Facebook, recognised me straight away and others who know me quite well didn’t. “Going on your break are ya” someone said to me as I walked passed the queue one night. “I’m off for a pray” I said staying in character “what don’t you want to have to go to work no more?” I stared very puzzled at the man for a moment or two, as what he had just said were lyrics to one of my songs. He revealed himself as someone that had seen me perform live several times and was also a friend on Facebook. Another chap recognised me instantly saying “Is that you under there Anto?”, it was someone I had only had a very brief association with about 8 years ago. I’m a little used to being recognised due to my Bowler hat and also notice when I don’t wear it, good friends walk past me and just don’t see me, but in full make up and hood now that was a surprise.
When it was all over I was very pleased to get my life back and quite disappointed I couldn’t make it to the After party due to a prior engagement, but am looking forward to possibly doing it all again next year, though I doubt I’ll have a more perfect part than Father Anto or as great a comrade as Keshar.
Thanks to all everyone at PrimEvil hope to see you again next year. xx