(Actors Rob Tymec and Eric Branget, during a pre-show photo shoot at Monkeys With A Typewriter Theater Company’s presentation of Local Hauntings an evening of ghost stories from Windsor and Essex County at Rockstar Music Hall on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
On any normal day, the powers that do such things will calculate the overall population of the region. But, it appears, after spending a night at Monkeys With A Typewriter Theater Company’s presentation of Local Hauntings, At the Rockstar Music Hall, these figures may not be all that accurate. What is never mentioned are the assortment of ghosts, ghouls and other otherworldly characters who inhabit, or are reputed to inhabit, some of the city’s oldest structures.
These apparitions have attained a mythical status and have a penchant to alter things. It might be as simple as moving things around when no one is looking. Or a penchant for turning lights on and off. Others have rather unique peculiarities. One has a displeasure for new décor. Others turn up where and when they are least expected wearing totally out of fashion apparel, although at their age, centenarians for sure, it is not lost fashion sense but rather a preference to what they wore when they walked among the living.
All of this was revealed Saturday night at the fabled Rockstar Music Hall during a dark and stormy night, which was most appropriate. With rain aplenty and wind whipping all and sundry in sight, inside, two of the city’s most prominent actors took to telling stories of the city and county’s forefathers and foremothers, the ones who, despite being, well dead, are still active in certain and sometimes odd pursuits.
On their own, the producers and the evening’s hosts, Rob Tymec and Eric Branget, are engaging story tellers, but this was no ordinary tell-all. It was the night before the beginning of the week of Halloween and to capture the full flavour of such a pernicious time, both took to wearing the drabbest clothes they could find, all in a grand effort to dress like it was 1899.
Despite the room being shrouded in darkness, lit only by table candles and the lanterns both carried, there is something so delightful as to watch their facial expressions as they conveyed a look of distraction from the content they were delivering in measured empathy. They were not embellishing but using the actor’s skill to make the right points at the right time.
What was singularly attractive to their approach, was the very manner in which they worked the dark hall, appearing at times out of nowhere to finish or augment each other’s sentences.
That was part of the plan, a subtle way for the pair to animate and draw the audience into their tales. It worked superbly. A kindly brushing of a person’s shoulder invariably elicited the telltale gasp of surprise formally telegraphing that goosebumps were taking over the bodies of the effected audience member, and for good reason.
What has happened in various and sundry locations of the city are at times unexplainable and inexplicable often with a single common thread that happens, but not in all cases, to link them to Walkerville’s whisky industry.
And while many of the stories were pulled from the region’s crypt of sundry tales of the unknown, Tymec actually went one further, his own personal experience with the paranormal at Old Sandwich Town’s famed Mackenzie Hall. At one time the Hall was basically the centre of the village, serving as its court suggesting there were certainly enough scoundrels and mere villains who passed through its doors who might have relished the opportunity to hang around.
The production itself is largely based on the highly popular Spirits of Sandwich and Spirits of Amherstburg walking tours taken to a new level, and new tales added for good measure. The audience sits comfortably while the action, and there was plenty, carries on around them.
It is a concept that has considerable merit simply because it gives the inventive hosts the ability to make things go bump in the darkness of the hall while allowing them full control over the narrative. As an aside, it also, in a very compact way, releases considerable information of the region’s past and some of its insufferable non-Census documented occupants. When all added up, Local Hauntings deserves a considerable bravo for being a most enjoyable way to spend an evening, goosebumps aside.
For more about Monkeys With A Typewriter Theatre Company including upcoming productions visit https://www.facebook.com/Monkeys-With-A-Typewriter-Theatre-Company-111515630266936/
For more information including upcoming events at Rockstar Music Hall visit https://rockstarvenue.com
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.