The Friday 2/27/15 show marked the New York premiere of Boneyards after my performing it regularly in Philadelphia since its launch in the 2013 Philly Fringe. The concluding séance was my first one at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and the results are in: that sucker’s haunted.
My antique 1917 Ouija board with 1920 planchette was personed by audience volunteers Aaron and Chris while audience volunteer Josie stood aside and served as questioner. The rest of the audience stood in a circle watching the disturbing, heart-breaking events unfold.
They contacted a presence/spirit/demon/subconscious ideomotor impulse (depending on your beliefs) named R U S T Y who was 7 and died In 2 0 1 0. Did he see the show? Y E S. What did he think of it? U 1 which I cheekily interpreted to mean “you’re number 1.”
Was he still in the cellar with us? N O. He was upstairs on the T O P F L O O R of the two-story museum. How did he die? G U N. By whom? D A D.
Later he told us he had wafted back down to us in the cellar and that he was hovering at the C E I L I N G. Previously I had told the audience that from past experiences speaking with children on a Ouija board they tend to indeed talk like children, giving brief answers and also misspelling words. This was borne out when we asked if he could see us he said Y E S, thanks to the M E A R (mirror).
A full-length mirror is part of my set and is used at various times during the show. I also point out just before every séance that it’s there to provide a window for the spirits to see us and the show as, according to James Merrill’s epic supernatural poem The Changing Light at Sandover, ghosts get the best views of the living via reflections. (continue reading…)
Come wake the dead. BONEYARDS returns for 2 final shows this Saturday and Sunday 11/2 and 11/3 in Philadelphia. Times and tickets.
Meanwhile please enjoy my latest article in today’s Washington Post about my theatrical experiments in contacting the dead as performance art over the past two years. Thank you for your support and patronage, and Happy Halloween.
Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing
by Jeffrey Stanley
I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind.
I like Ouija boards. I’ve used them since I was a teenager. More recently I’ve messed around with electric spirit boxes, also known as Frank’s boxes after their inventor Frank Sumption. They’re radio receivers which allow you to listen to and record voices of the dead, also known as EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) or Raudive voices, after one of their early discoverers. Over the past two years I have frequently used Ouija boards and spirit boxes in my performance art, attempting to conjure up the dead as my co-stars before a live audience. At one of the universities where I teach playwriting and screenwriting part-time I am also the faculty adviser for a student-led paranormal investigation club. Friends and fans assume I am a true believer but the truth is that I am not. I am a healthy skeptic. And that’s depressing for me because it means that on some level I feel certain there’s nothing out there. I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind. CONT’D>>
And also out today from Drexel University a story about the PIG of which I’m the proud faculty adviser…
Drexel Paranormal Investigators Haunted by the Unknown
by Alissa Falcone
…It doesn’t hurt that the group’s faculty adviser also has an interest with the undead: By day, Jeffrey Stanley teaches classes in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s Screenwriting and Playwriting Department, but at night he transforms into undead residents of cemeteries from all over the world during “Boneyards,” his performance that imagines supernatural comic monologues.CONT’D at drexel.edu>>
Boneyards Reopens 10/17/13
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10/14/13 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Philadelphia, PA –A real seance with real ghosts. But we don’t need to tell you that, you’ve already seen it. There are lots of Halloween events being promoted right now, especially of the big budget “haunted” house/prison/hayride/forest/valley variety with a cast of dozens of monsters/zombies/vampires/murder victims and we love those and patronize them as much as the next guy and gal every year, but why not consider something different for you or your friends eager to freak themselves out while also being profoundly moved on a spooky October night?
Transcripts and videos from previous shows are online for you and your colleagues’ perusal. We recommend you start here . You might also want to check out the first EVP recording made in the 118-year-old synagogue that is the show’s location when New York City playwright and Drexel University Performing Arts faculty Jeffrey Stanley held the world’s first ghost auditions. Stanley, who often writes about religion for the Washington Post, will be discussing seance as performance art in that publication later this month.
Performance dates are 10/17, 10/20, 11/2 and 11/3. Thanks for your consideration and for supporting independent theatre in Philly.
Press Contact: email@example.com
10/7/13 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Philadelphia, PA – The ongoing seance-as-theatre experiment continues. After a successful run in the 2013 Philly Fringe BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld just in time for Halloween. Same autobiographical, spooky show, same mouldering location, same real ghosts. 4 dates: 10/17, 10/20, 11/2 and 11/3. Tickets $10, seating is limited to 20.
The hilarious, eloquent and haunting follow-up to Stanley’s 2011 hit “Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead,” this true to life romp resurrects the cadaverous–from Philly’s Laurel Hill Cemetery to a British colonial graveyard in India to ancient Greek tomb worshippers. Paranormal activity guaranteed.
Times, tickets, photos, press, playbill, and real voices from the dead here.
About Your Destination
Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and beyond crowded South Philadelphia in the 1880s. They pushed south from the original “Jewish Quarter” near South Street, opening Jewish schools, hospitals and some 140 synagogues along the way. Hard to believe today, eh? In 1909 (continue reading…)
BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld just in time for Halloween. Shiva3 is proud to announce the return of Jeffrey Stanley’s solo show BONEYARDS which was a hit in the 2013 Philly Fringe. The 80-minute show will again be performed in the dark, dank coal cellar of the century-old storefront Shivtei Yeshuron Ezras-Israel Synagogue, also known as “the little shul” (part of the June 2013 Hidden City Festival) at 2015 South 4th Street in South Philly near Snyder Avenue for 4 performances. Stanley’s solo show is a followup to his 2011 Fringe hit BEAUTIFUL ZION: A BOOK OF THE DEAD. Stanley is also a dramatic writing faculty at New York University Tisch School of the Arts and at Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. He is a religion blogger for the Washington Post.
About the Show
A funeral for the living. A coming-of-age embalming. A suicidal decapitation by coal train. A cross-dressing hillbilly named Doodlebug. This metatheatrical, taphophilic, true-to-life monologue resurrects and converses with the cadaverous– (continue reading…)
BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld. Four new post-Fringe shows in October just in time for Halloween. 10/17/13, 10/20, 11/2 and 11/3. Only 20 seats per show, get ‘em before they’re gone.
“I almost cried,” said one spirit about my opening show. Then there was the one who told me to “go to hell.”
The situation: I turned on the P-SB7 AM-FM scanner, aka Frank’s box or spirit box, toward the end of my show as planned and aimed the video recorder at it, said a few introductory remarks and then walked away to the other end of the room where a Ouija board session was already in progress with audience members. Most of the audience was gathered round the board but a few lingered by the spirit box to see if they heard anything. Except for when I’m directly addressing the box there’s no reason to assume these voices are speaking only to me. These messages could have been meant for any of us gathered in the room, or it could be the spirits talking to each other. As with the prior session in this space I detect at least 11 voices. And they are of a mixed mind. There’s the “no/lies/go to hell/ain’t got time for it” faction who wants me to go away and then there’s the “pull up a chair/don’t you go/love…kisses/talk to me/hi it’s me/I almost cried” fan base.
Meanwhile the simultaneous Ouija session was dull as the spirits seemed reluctant to speak with us (not always the case; check out the Ouija fireworks from the next night’s show). They made their presence known…there were at least 3 of them. One had initials DTS and (continue reading…)