By Michael Lowe
October 28, 2008 10:05 pm
For UCLA students, Halloween usually means one of three things: tracking down king-sized candy bars in Bel Air, braving the streets of the famed West Hollywood Carnaval Party, or wandering the hills of Westwood for a frat or apartment party. However, for the second year in a row, the Hammer Museum is offering an alternate destination for the ghastly and ghoulish.
From 7 to 11 p.m. on Halloween night, the Hammer will open its doors for its free “Halloween in Hades” public event. With an expected 500 to 800 guests, the event will consist of performances and other Halloween night activities.
“It will be fun for people who want to avoid the craziness of West Hollywood but also want to have a great time with some crazy performances,” said Darin Klein, the program coordinator at the Hammer
Beginning at 7 p.m., students, alumni and socialites can enter the Hammer Museum’s outdoor courtyard and join the costumed masses while enjoying seasonal refreshments and the performances of three bands. A cash bar will be open all night. Although the menu has not been officially set, Klein said to expect anything from Halloween popcorn balls to pumpkin soup.
According to Klein, the great thing about this event is that there is something for everyone. Someone coming to see the movie might step outside and really enjoy the music or vice versa.
“It’s really convenient and it’s going to be off the beaten path for many people’s tastes because there are super unusual performances,” Klein said. “You’re not going to see anything like it anywhere else on Halloween.”
There will be performances by musical and performance groups Discount Cruise to Hell, We Are the World and Hecuba. The Billy Wilder Theater is also hosting screenings that night,
Discount Cruise to Hell
Shortly after the doors open, Los Angeles-based theatre rock band Discount Cruise to Hell will hit the outdoor stage. The members of the group will pose as cruise ship entertainers on a ship bound for hell, playing for an audience of damned souls on an inevitable journey towards what Ian MacKinnon, one of the band’s founding members, calls “the Anus of Hell,” the ultimate destination.
“Discount Cruise to Hell is extremely theatrical, over the top, and they wear makeup, costumes, wigs and sing crazy songs,” Klein said.
Discount Cruise to Hell’s nine theatrically-trained members have been developing and molding this ever-transforming show since 2001, when psychological theory about the unconscious and shadow thoughts grew into a frivolous piece of performance art.
“The idea is that we’re transporting people out of earthly mundane reality to hell, a completely different zone of existence,” MacKinnon said. “It’s a way to deal with our own psychologies in a fun way.”
Audiences can look forward to a colorful cast of characters ranging from the Greek hero Orpheus, to the Japanese goddess of creation and death, Izanami, to a character called the Murder Gnome. Yes, the Murder Gnome.
“None of us are visual artists by training, but we create this living painting of people,” said MacKinnon, who also plays MC Charon, the boatman on the river Styx. “We start with our core ideas, but it’s an animal that comes out of its cage and gets loose.”
In a collaborative effort, Discount Cruise to Hell creates what MacKinnon calls a “fabulous hybrid of theatre and rock and roll with live outrageous debauchery, which includes an S&M vegetable torture routine. It’s “˜Dante’s Inferno’ meets “˜Wizard of Oz’ meets “˜Rocky Horror.'”
We Are the World
After a short intermission, the recently formed We Are the World will take the stage, combining a blend of music and movement.
The ensemble of four have been collaborating since May 2008 to create a music dance performance project with a sound they call “industrial techno rock.” Utilizing both electronic beats and a form of abstracted tap dance, We Are the World creates a high-energy, fast-paced aesthetic that changes with its venue.
“As dancers, we can dance in many different places and we are freer to roam the space,” said Ryan Heffington, a dancer as well as the costume designer for the group. “Having a background in site-specific work, its always a continuing exploration.”
Klein expects We Are the World’s spontaneity to thrive in the Halloween atmosphere at the Hammer.
“We Are the World brings a beautiful, unexpected, contemporary dance with such a world influence,” Klein said. “Anything could happen with We Are the World. Don’t expect them to stay on the stage.”
Following We Are the World, a costume contest will be held with Hammer bookstore gift certificates for art books, jewelry and accessories as prizes.
Once the winners have been announced, the headliner, Los Angeles-based electronic duo Hecuba, will bring the night to a close.
The two-year-old band will have just returned from an East Coast tour to perform what Klein labelzed as “the feeling of a modern day Velvet Underground.”
After experimenting in different forms of performance art in New York, including film and dance, instrumentalist Jon Beasley and singer Isabelle Albuquerque began to collaborate on music evoking a sense of space or a specific feeling or emotion.
“We’re trying to make a music that has the sounds and aesthetics of dance music but operates more in creating a mood or atmosphere rather than a dance track,” Albuquerque said. “Music is more of a direct, immediate way for people to get the story.”
For the Halloween show, Hecuba’s story will feature influences from Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon,” the story of a young Irishman and his struggle after dueling and killing an English army officer in a fit of jealousy.
Because of Albuquerque and Beasley’s film backgrounds, their music hopes to tell a narrative and transform dance music into a medium of storytelling.
“We spent a long time developing different ways to do performances with electronic equipment,” said Beasley. “We’re using a piano, sampler, synthesizers and drum machines in a very non-traditional set up for dance music because it’s not even traditional dance music.”
Billy Wilder Screenings
For those seeking a cinematic Halloween experience, adjacent to the courtyard, the Billy Wilder Theater will be showing Ernest Shoedsack and Irving Pichel’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” where a hunter becomes hunted by an insane Russian count, and Victor Halperin’s “White Zombie,” the story of a young couple’s marriage plans that are disrupted by voodoo magic. The shows begin at 7:30 p.m.
So for those in search of a good scare, some great theatrics or some tunes to “monster mash” to, Friday’s “Halloween in Hades” has something for everyone.