"Spookeasy" puts Irish twist on Halloween

The Daily Pennsylvanian
October 29, 2009

Spookeasy 2009

College senior Lee Huttner (right) and College junior Chris Milione (left) perform during the Kelly Writers House's Irish-themed "Spookeasy."

Rukmini Sarkar
The Daily Pennsylvanian

Last night, members of the Penn community were thinking green in a new way -- with an Irish-themed "Spookeasy."

In celebration of Halloween, the Kelly Writers House hosted its annual Spookeasy event last night -- but this year, with a twist. The Writers House collaborated with the Curio Theatre Company, who are putting on a production of Conor McPherson's The Weir this month, to present an evening filled with Irish ghost stories and folklore.

Students and Curio Theatre Company members alike told ghost stories and Irish folk tales, sang and recited poetry while audience members enjoyed sweet Halloween treats like pumpkin cupcakes and orange marshmallows.

First behind the microphone was Joshua Hitchens from the Curio Theatre. He performed an excerpt from The Weir, the story of a ghost who sits on the stairs and stares at the protagonist.

Paul Kuhn, also a Company member, continued with an old Irish ghost story of a girl who hears knocking on the door of her house -- which turns out to be coming from "fairy land."

To spice up the Irish theme, College senior Max Greiner played the guitar and sang selections from the Irish musical rendition of "The Tain" by The Decemberists, which relates to warfare, heroism and epic battles.

College senior and event organizer Lee Huttner, who dressed in all black and painted black shadows under his eyes, recited readings from Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark, a story of a boy growing up from 1945 to 1965 in northern Ireland.

Huttner also told a story about ghosts who appear in the daytime and performed the traditional Irish folk song, "She Moved Through the Fair" with Kelly Writers House band, "Riverrun."

Seven community members also volunteered to perform during the open-mic session.

Huttner voiced enthusiasm for the event's turnout, saying that this year's Spookeasy was one of the most crowded yet.

The event provoked "powerful emotions [and] subtle alienatons," according to Penn graduate student Ross Lipton. "I was inspired, but terrified by my own inspirations."