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Behind The Screams

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The Scare Coach

This season, ScareHouse added a new position to the team: Scare Coach. But what exactly does a Scare Coach do? Let’s ask the Scare Coach herself, Allie Sims.

“My job is primarily managing actors a.k.a. herding cats,” says Sims with a laugh. “Managing actors and helping them get everything they need and need to know, so it’s a lot of things.”

Sims has been performing with ScareHouse since 2015 and used to split her time between ScareHouse and The Basement. Since The Basement hasn’t reopened yet, she decided to take on this new role as Scare Coach, which is basically like a den mother.

“The first thing I do is to make sure that everyone’s here, check in on everyone, help them get into costumes and their spots. I’m also helping them get what we need from them in that character in that spot. We don’t want an actor to just go, ‘Boo!’ There’s a lot more to it.”

For example, teaching them the art of “static stares.”

“A static stare is standing still for a very long time. You are making the customer question whether you are real or not. Even though it’s a very simple scare, it has its purpose. It intensifies the disorientation and keeps them guessing, and that intensifies their fear.”

She also guides the actors toward specific acting techniques.

“Don’t make empty threats. It’s not scary. Simply imply. It’s ‘I’m gonna hit you’ versus ‘You look like a fine piece, I would love to get my hands on you.’ It’s that they’d like to get you, but they can’t.”

Plus, she helps them with scares like “lingering.”

“You know how when you get scared by an actor and they start following you? Now it can create bottlenecks and conga lines and affects the flow if you stay there too long. But sometimes it’s a really good scare. So we decided to call it a two-second linger. I tell them to treat it like a stop sign. When you get your scare in the front or back, you say ‘one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.’ You don’t want to be there too long because eventually it’s not scary anymore.”

Another part of Sims’ job is giving actors props and making sure they know what’s safe to use and not.

“I’m telling them where it’s safe to hit in the haunt, ‘cause one of the things I tell my actors is that things look real, but odds are they’re not. So you can’t just go bashing on it. I also help make sure they’re not destroying the set or hurting themselves.”

Not only is Sims managing the actors, but she’s also a great support to Haunt Daddy J.J. Byers.

“For him as show manager, he is primarily focusing on the flow of the show and making sure there are no disruptions. I’m the gap between the show manager and the actors. That way I can help so he’s not overwhelmed.”

One thing Sims stresses for everyone at ScareHouse is to take care of their mental health as a performer.

“This is a very physically demanding job. I tell people to do self-care, so they can come in and do their job and have fun doing it. We definitely need these tricks and tips so it can be fun.”