The weekend of Halloween, the Writing House hosted a ghost tour in the cemetery. Actors dressed as ghosts and read poems of their deaths while an undertaker guided the listeners around. The spooky experience was very well written and all organized by students.
I walked up to Stirling’s and was met by a table of students in costume offering candy and a fifteen minute trip that I couldn’t deny. Waiting until the previous group emerged from the cemetery, we sipped hot apple cider and visited with friends. Then, the undertaker in his dark cloak approached us and beckoned for us to follow.
Into the cemetery we went, a well known spot that Sewanee students are not frightened by in the slightest. Anyone who attends Sewanee is no stranger to ghosts. In many residence halls there are rumors of ghosts and spirits that stand at the foot of beds or walk the halls. The Purple met with Amanda Schlegel (C’23), a resident of the Writing House who wanted to take a new approach to Sewanee’s ghost stories.
The book “Haunted Sewanee” by Annie Armour tells of over seventy local haunted places and the stories that go along with them. Schlegel says, “I think a lot of people know about the book Haunted Sewanee…we just wanted something fresh.” It is well known by students and in Schlegel’s opinion, a little over-read on Halloween. The goal was to provide an interactive experience that could be a new Sewanee Halloween tradition.
Each Writing House resident pitched two ideas for events and this event was thought up and planned by Schlegel. It was a collaborative event with Schlegel, Plum Champlin (C’23) and Sarah Hall (C’23) writing and editing the poems to be read that night. “We wanted to create some original ghosts that we thought would embody not only Sewanee characters but also the type of ghost the individual playing the part wanted to be.” Before even writing the poems, Schlegel shares that the team “hired” the ghosts and asked their opinion on what they might like to act out. In this way, the poems were somewhat catered to the ghosts that read them. Schlegel shared that most of the ghosts were residents or friends or “anyone willing to stand in the graveyard in the cold” but there were some trained actors such as Emma Dillinger (C’25) who played Horatio in the recent production of Sewanee Theatre Department’s Hamlet.
The attendees were guided around and each ghost acted out their story in full costume. With only a flashlight or candle in one hand, the actors had to dramatically read the poem in the dark. After the group met the last ghost, we emerged back onto Georgia Avenue and went our separate ways leaving the ghosts to prepare for their next group.
As a ghost herself, Schlegel shares that the experience was “fun and lively,” pun not intended.
November is National Novel Writing Month and the Writing House just had their first writing session. These will be continuing throughout the month as well as other events hosted by the house. Schlegel shares that the house is currently attempting to get a local author to make an appearance and help host a fantasy world and character building event.