A tree branch creaks from the movement of something lurking in the forest. Within the shadows of the trees is a distorted humanoid shape, drifting from bough to bough, as if on a mission, searching for a lost soul perhaps?
It suddenly stops and disappears into nothingness. Leaves scatter, as a creature on four legs runs off into the distance, howling in its wake.
This is only an imaginary scenario inspired by those creative folks over at Caravan Farm Theatre, who are about to unleash the farm’s 12th annual Walk of Terror on All Hallow’s Eve Friday, Oct. 30.
Those who dare take the walk in the woods at the Spallumcheen farm will encounter a Slavic mythological creature called the Leshy, a shape-shifting being in human form which can transform into an animal or plant of any size.
“He has a propensity to lead travelers astray and abduct children,” said Caravan artistic director Courtenay Dobbie, “He’s a sort of a guardian of the woods who gets humans lost. It has a bit of an environmental message.”
The masterminds behind this year’s walk are Laura McLean and Christine Quintana, artistic producers from Vancouver’s Delinquent Theatre, who are working with Caravan prop master/designer Scott Crocker on all the creepy details. Community members are also back to help enact the characters that will be cast amongst the woods.
“It’s very much a visual experience,” said Dobbie. “We have to create a broad spectrum as community members are involved.”
Gates to the farm open at 6:30 p.m. and visitors can embark on the walk anytime between 7 and 8 p.m. Afterwards, folks can head over to Caravan’s open timber-frame barn to dance out the cobwebs to the carnival and film noir-like music of Vancouver’s Jeff Gladstone and the Bad Ideas.
“We encourage audiences to come dressed up,” said Dobbie.
The Walk of Terror kicks off Caravan’s 2015-16 season.
This year’s crop of outdoor theatre productions will include both an original winter sleigh-ride show plus the Thornton Wilder classic Our Town in the summer.
“We wanted to do a modern classic this year opposed to something that is over 200 years old, like Shakespeare, so we decided to do Our Town, touted as the greatest play ever,” said Dobbie, who will direct the production, which was written in the 1930s and is set in the earlier part of the 20th century.
The show will not only incorporate the farm’s outdoor setting, but its Clydesdale horses, and will also involve members of the community along with a women’s choir.
“I feel this season is about people, life and community: the trials and tribulations of life as we know it. We are taking the emotional factor to a deeper level,” said Dobbie.
That idea of community and family is also found in Caravan’s winter sleigh-ride production of Bedstefader (or How Grandfather Came out of the Cold), written by Toronto playwright Sean Dixon (who also penned the 2012 Caravan summer production The Notorious Right Robber and his Robber Bride).
The play is based on the Danish wintertime practice of “hygge,” which means creating warmth, coziness and happiness indoors at wintertime.
“It’s a spiritual term,” said Dobbie. “In Scandinavia, because of the long winter period, they do this to keep happy and embrace the coziness and maintain an introspective time at winter. You are supposed to eat with family and friends inside, wear warm sweaters, curl up near the fire, read a book, and bring green inside such as holly, boughs and trees.”
Caravan will also celebrate winter with its very first outdoors Christmas market Nov. 22, which will feature artisans selling local handmade goods, a bonfire, treats and carollers.
The end of winter will also be celebrated with the farm’s new horse barn, which will be erected in the spring and is one of the reasons the farm will not be holding a Mother’s Day show this season.
“The new horse barn is becoming a reality from the fundraising we have done over the past few years. It is a heated barn with 10 to 12 stalls for the horses and will provide a place where people can come visit the horses during our shows,” said Dobbie.
Tickets for the Walk of Terror and all Caravan productions are available at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.tickeseller.ca.