ALONE, A Beautiful Haunt In June, Returns To L.A. This Weekend
By Abel Horwitz
We've still got months to go until it's Halloween, but ALONE, one of the biggest productions on the haunted circuit, returns to Los Angeles tomorrow for their first of four shows this year.
ALONE, the “most beautiful haunt in L.A.,” continues to push the limits of their experiences, bringing with them a new aesthetic and an evolving theme.
Co-creator Lawrence Lewis and his creative partner, Devon Paulson, had been rolling around the idea of an interactive performance piece for years. When they went to the notorious haunt BLACKOUT in 2012, it inspired them to try their hand at their own haunt. In 2013 they debuted ALONE [An Existential Haunting], which on a surface level featured many of the trappings of BLACKOUT, replete with a contract that had to be signed to allow performers to touch you, a location only revealed upon ticket purchase, a safe word, and the fact that you must go through the event solo.
But Lewis and Paulson, who earn their livings as a creative producer and interior designer, respectively, brought their own aesthetic to the event. With their team they created a production very different than other haunts. Veering away from monsters jumping out at you and gory imagery, ALONE played in the psychological sphere. Their first year was full of themes ranging from rooms in which participants were forced to question their notions of anonymity in a digital age, feelings of helplessness in the face of danger, and the sense that shadows and objects might not always be what they seem.
And while ALONE shares much of the DNA of a haunted house, they have never referred to themselves as one. “It’s not exactly what we are doing,” explains Lewis.
“ALONE will always effect some form of existential haunting and be fear-based in some sense but that is not always (and possibly almost never) conflated with the “haunted house” trope” says Lewis. “ALONE, when firing on all cylinders, should explore the full range of human emotions, as opposed to dialing down to the narrow band of fear alone.”
Following their debut, ALONE created several shows outside of the Halloween season. Last year ALONE introduced The ENOLA Foundation during their production at ScareLA. It worked this way: Hours after signing up at their booth on the showroom floor, strangers would approach participants in a crowded space, talking to them like they were old friends, before leading them into a basement area where the experience began. After it was all over the participants were handed a flier for The ENOLA Foundation, and unprompted, they could call the phone number on the flier, which would then lead them on a scavenger hunt across L.A.
This culminated in a performance in a private home, replete with a tea ceremony, a sound bath, spiritualistic overtones and a welcoming into the ENOLA Foundation.
Many of those themes were again revisited during their 2014 Halloween-season haunt. Those who had followed them through their off-season scavenger hunts and their digital presence were rewarded with subtle Easter Eggs and clues to follow, such as finding letters in library books and secret passwords to receive tokens at downtown bars, leading up to the haunt.
Another scavenger hunt in January, this time leading dozens of participants around Los Angeles searching for clues and interacting with performers, concluded the ENOLA chapter of ALONE's history until now.
On Thursday ALONE returns, this time presenting the first of four events for 2015. The black and white color scheme they have primarily stuck to in their previous marketing and design aesthetic has been replaced with a colorful rainbow, and the titles of their experiences, “Diffusion”, “Refraction”, “Reflection” and “Absorption” represent this new step into a bright new world.
“The opposite of dark is light and color," explains Lewis, “and ALONE is fully embracing it for the 2015 run.”
While there are moments of ALONE that are indeed scary, Lewis admits that the scariest part of their experience is the mystery surrounding their productions.
“We...understand that the unknown is the scariest feeling one has and we have a very specific aesthetic that fosters this notion; the only way to overcome the fear is to confront it.”
“ALONE is interested in exploring the human condition by pressing up against it in various ways,” continues Lewis. “We are not interested in simply scaring the participant, though that is a very real element to it. ALONE should be understood as an experience to be had rather than a mystery to be feared.”
With their 2015 season beginning this weekend, stepping into the new world of ALONE looks bright, colorful, and as always, fascinating.
“The Index of Diffusion” runs June 25th - 27th at an undisclosed location in Hollywood. Tickets are $20 online and $25 at the door (if not sold out, and if you can find it). Tickets and information about future events can be found here and following them on Twitter @aloneexperience.