Horror Souk was a temporary installation of interactive theatrical shows, immersive multimedia and performance art pieces. It featured 8 shows in total, all with a horror theme. The event took place on The Moor in the centre of Sheffield, and ran from Halloween to late November. This was plenty of time for the word to spread, and hopefully for members of the public to give in to their curiosity; Horror Souk was located in the middle of the high street, inside what used to be a large shop. The glass façade gave passers-by a glimpse inside the space, hollowed out and decorated with graffiti, headless mannequins, bloody messages and eerie debris.
The space inside had been totally transformed; seemingly every inch of the building had been utilised to create effective and dramatic performance spaces. Shows took place inside various rooms spread out over (at least) 3 floors. It would have been quite easy to get lost, but for me, that definitely added to the experience; corridors and were dimly lit in different colours, with many dark corners and passages for us to investigate (or avoid…) Exploration of the space felt like a big part of the event itself; you could lose your way, discover performers and wandering audience members, and enjoy the atmosphere.
The individual shows were fresh, exciting, unpredictable and a little chaotic. The artists each brought something different to the table in terms of format and interpretation of the horror theme, but they all demonstrated a huge amount of talent, imagination, originality and flair. It was a joy to experience each dark vision being brought to life. I enjoyed all the shows, but special mention goes to the following:
Did You Call The Police?
This show was a devastatingly powerful performance piece made in response to the Rotherham child abuse scandal. It utilised total darkness and a distressing mixture of warped sounds, including sound-bites taken directly from the report, the shrill sound of a paper shredder, and an ominous, steady beat. Intimidating, frightening and provocative, the real impact of this show came at the end, when the lights were turned on to reveal a child’s bedroom scene.
You, Me, and a Scary Story
This solo experience was both haunting and thought-provoking. It focussed on the stories we create about the unknown; the way we fill in the gaps to make sense of the unexplained, and how we perceive mysterious events in our own minds. Most of this experience took place in total darkness, with an audio feed direct to the room, giving instructions and telling the story. I was encouraged to explore the space with a small torch, investigating the props and piecing a story together. It was very scary, and I can understand why others opted to leave before it was over.
This show took place in the basement of the building, the story being that the abandoned space was up for sale, and we were potential buyers. This set up allowed the actors to work with the contents of the basement, such as the old storage units and trolleys, and to incorporate them into the concept. An unusual mix of dance and scare tactics which wouldn’t be out of place in a scare maze, The Unit was funny, frightening, and extremely entertaining.