By GLENN TOLLE
Some of my October traditions are relatively old, dating back to when I was an infant. Other traditions, like going to the GENESSEE COUNTRY VILLAGE & MUSEUM for their SPIRITS OF THE PAST THEATRICAL TOURS, are relatively new. The tour is spooky, funny and little bit frightening, and takes advantage of the museum’s collection of 19th century buildings to (literally and figuratively) house stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. After the great time I had last year, I was keen on returning.
The theme for this year’s SPIRITS OF THE PAST THEATRICAL TOURS was Witches. I’ve always had a fondness for these staples of Halloween, so I was more than eager to check the tour out. I arrived at the Museum just as the evening dusk gave way to the cauldron black of night. The sky was clear and the moon was full. Without the intrusion of the city’s light pollution you could clearly see the stars and imagine sorceresses on bent broom sticks, diving in and out of the salt and molasses sky.
Inside the tours waiting area, cylindrical tables cluttered the floor like upright fairy rings and a fire burned with the intensity of Matthew Hopkins’ suspicious gaze. Adjacent to the fire sat a pointy hatted hag resting her toes. After being thoroughly warned of all that might befall us on the tour if we didn’t watch our step, or if we played with our phones, we were herded onto a wagon pulled by a tractor.
From there they drove us like livestock into the village where we half expected to be sacrificed to ancient deities. Thankfully, magical ritual was not on the agenda, but others were. As we walked from house to hearth, guided by the lantern of our tour guide, we bore witness to the effects and affects of witches and their work. Stories such as THE MONKEY’S PAW and slices of historical happenings (the Salem Witch Trials, etc.) served to illustrate the witch through immersive theater. Like the lantern that guided us on our tour, we learned that the history of the witch is far more illuminating when plunged into the shadows.
After the tour finished, all of us in the so called “Frankenstein Group” were trundled back to the land of the un-enchanted. Once at the gift shop, I found myself poring over the many forbidden fables of the past. Eventually, I bought myself four collections of regional ghost stories that will surely serve to remind me of the great time I had at this year’s SPIRITS OF THE PAST THEATRICAL TOURS.
The GENESSEE COUNTRY VILLAGE & MUSEUM is located at 1410 Flint Hill Rd in Mumford, New York and hosts numerous events and programs year around, the SPIRITS OF THE PAST THEATRICAL TOURS being just one of them.