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Profile of jcanuck
Is anyone out there doing any type of spirit theatre or spook show that does not use a blackout?

I have developed one taking some ideas from MANIFESTATIONS and using some of my own ideas that have been festering for the last 10 years!

I'm having trouble marketing it. Any ideas?


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Inner circle
Bar Harbor, ME
2191 Posts

Profile of drwilson
There are some ghost show books by Charles Cameron that you might find useful. When I say ghost show, I mean the over-the-top, bucket-of-blood stuff that was played on stages before B horror movies late at night.

If you are going for classier ghostly effects, it is pretty straightforward to do full light seance things on stage. You can animate things with black th****, very strong, and it can't be seen from the front row. You can do slate writing, plenty of psychic effects (psychometry, etc.), anything but card tricks.

As for marketing, why not stick with what worked before: a short live show before a movie. If the movie is scheduled for midnight, it's not likely that the theater would be showing a film at that time anyway. So your pitch is to get people to the theater so the owner can make some money. Sure, they pay you and for the film, but they sell concessions.

I think that you have to pitch this to an independent theater, especially in a college town. People with kids don't go to the movies much, especially at midnight.

Good luck!


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Inner circle
SW Ohio, USA
1555 Posts

Profile of Dr_Stephen_Midnight
The Queen City Mystics (combined SAM - IBM) did such a Ghost Show at the Esquire Theatre last year. The movie was "Army of Darkness."

We had one performer doing blockhead, the steel-trap stunt and eating a light bulb. Another did the straitjacket escape, walking on glass, and lying on a bed of nails while two concrete blocks were broken on his midsection with sledge hammers.

My wife, Andrea, gave tarot readings in the lobby.

I was piqued, however, that no "ghost" effects were being included in the "Ghost Show," so in addition to the mentalism I was already slated to perform (Hoy's Improving on Dr. Rhine, and Mental Epic), I borrowed a cabinet from Bill Brewe and threw together a Spirit Cabinet routine, which worked out very well.
The 'spirits' rattled and tossed tambourines and dance bells, wrote messages, removed a sealed lock from a marked chain, tossed pie plates and a skull, and finally cut me free of my ropes with a pair of shears. There was also a 7-foot, skull-faced phantom that manifested briefly at the climax.

Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
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Profile of salsa_dancer
The Haunted Chester show is being done without a blackout. We have added some things that are very chilling and have a seance section, although it will be very low level lighting. Sorry I cannot go into more detail about it at this time Smile

We are taking the thinking more along the lines of the psychological thriller and leaving room for people's imagination to create the feeling.
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Profile of cogliostro
I've been planning and never quite finishing my own spirit theater for over a year. I've re-invented my own character twice, and have gone out of my way to create routines specifically for the spirit theater, only to abandon them before ever showing them to anyone. Hmm... given all that, perhaps anything I say on the topic should be taken with a grain of salt.

Anyhow, I managed to buy a copy of "Seance" on eBay, and in more than one article, people mentioned how rare it really was to work with a complete blackout. Only the permanent sites can really count on it, and how many permanent sites are there? Finally, I can asure you it is possible to work a spirit theater in a dimly lit room.

The trick to it is to give them something to look at while still allowing most of the scares to take place inside their own heads.

If you have days and days and days to kill surfing the internet, try searching through antiques on eBay, and seeing if anything that you can afford (and looks good) actually gets the creative juices flowing. (Sure, its just a 19th century Chinese snuff jar, but what if I told my audience that Aleister Crowley once captured a vengeful spirit inside it? Hmmm...)

Just my musings,
Black Hart
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Scottish Highlands
470 Posts

Profile of Black Hart
When I started out with 'Haunted House Nights' and 'The Black Magick Theatre Show' I spent a LOT of time sorting out venues. I learned a lesson which I will pass on to you.

Venues are simple to find. Any old and gothic looking hotel will be happy to let you hire it. The difficult part is finding the customers.

Concentrate on finding your audience. If you approach a suitable venue and say, "I've got 50 people for a banquet and I need a room at your hotel", they will be only too pleased to hire out to you at a reasonable rate.

Venues will NOT find the audience for you. You have to do THAT for yourself.

This was discovered by my own experience in the early years. Now I let the entertainment agencies find the audiences AND the evnues for me. This is MUCH, MUCH easier.


Black Hart
Black Artefacts, manufacturer and dealer of weird, bizarre and psychic magic:
Scott Xavier
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Inner circle
3672 Posts

Profile of Scott Xavier
I'm performing a John Edward like Neo-Seance in which I have trimmed the fat down to me the ghosts and answers.
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Inner circle
3045 Posts

Profile of Necromancer
My theatrical seance (derived from the work of Burge, Earle and others) does use a blackout, but that isn't where ALL the goodies happen. It's The Houdini Seance, staged at Excalibur nightclub (one of the most haunted locations in Chicago), and you can read about it at

For non-blackout seances and how to market them, I recommend Docc Hilford's $1000 Secret Seance.

Best of luck,
Creator of The Xpert (20 PAGES of reviews!) and the Hands-Off Multiple ESP System ("Quality and design far exceed any ESP cards on the market"-Genii), and contributor to the ebook GOLD: When It HAS To Be Performance GOLD -- all at Penguin.
Bill Fienning
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Profile of Bill Fienning
A complete, total blackout is almost impossible unless you have a fixed performing site. Even then, it can be difficult. Minute light leaks around doors or through ductwork or glowing LEDs on electronics can destroy the total blackout effect. Sometimes fire regulations require that the EXIT signs be visible, even during the blackout.

When I needed near blackout conditions in a hotel meeting room, I covered the illuminated EXIT signs with my own glow-in-the-dark EXIT signs. This prevented total blackout, but it was close enough for my purposes.

I do a dim-light seance. The major illumination comes from a single candle. The very dim room lights are eventually extinguished near the end of the seance, which is then lighted only by a single candle. Even the candle mysteriously goes out at the end of the seance.
Bill Fienning

"It's More than Tricks"
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