“Hey, I fix stuff!”
One thing to know about working at ScareHouse: If you volunteer to take on a bigger job, they will take you up on it! That’s something Mark Hawley, who’s become a bit of a Mr. Tech Fixit, recently learned.
“I don’t think I have an official title,” says Hawley. “Last year I was an actor, and this year when I went back for auditions, I just kinda volunteered—’Hey, I repair tech and mechanical stuff! Do you need any help with the build process?’ I’ve been very involved ever since that moment.”
Even though he hasn’t been with the haunt very long, ScareHouse is something that’s been haunting the back of his brain for a while.
“I moved to Pittsburgh 13 years ago and for many of those 13 years I thought to myself, maybe I should check out ScareHouse—that would be fun to do. But usually I’d think of it around the third week of October.”
But in 2021, after growing tired of Zoom calls and working remotely, Hawley decided to audition.
“By the end of COVID, I was very much like, I want to go out and get a job that’s actually fun. The pandemic had slowed down a bit. I can’t stay at home anymore. I need to interact with human beings in person.”
So he auditioned, which is something he had some experience in as an NYU film and television graduate.
“My career has been very odd. I decided film and television wasn’t for me once I graduated and became more of an Internet motion graphics and advertising educational technology person. I was a technical director, then I worked at Dow Jones, I worked for the Wall Street Journal.” It was in New York that he met his wife who eventually urged them to move back to her hometown, Pittsburgh—a city that he’s finally adapted.
“It just took me a long time to feel at home. The pace is much different and the inability to escape from people you don’t want to deal with anymore is another issue. You see the same people everywhere you go!”
After his first season as an actor with ScareHouse, Hawley was excited to take on this new repair role, even if he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
“I thought I was going to be learning at someone’s knee how to fix this stuff, and it has been a thrown-in-and figure-it-out-yourself [situation], because that’s what we have! It’s been great to learn on the fly and adapt and to know that everybody knows I didn’t show up saying I was an expert at this!” he laughs. “I do my best at everything! Luckily things have come out pretty well. Getting to learn the haunted attraction-specific technology—it’s interesting to learn all of the trade equipment, to see what vendors there are that sell this kind of stuff, to learn the air compressor technology that powers a lot of the animated props. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to do more in the escape room.”
In addition to fixing anything that goes wrong in the haunt, Hawley also hopes to be a resource for actors in future ScareHouse seasons.
“I’ve always liked working as a director with actors. I haven’t gotten to do that yet, but there’s been talk of it. I like explaining to novices a few barebones tricks that they can lean on that make them feel more invested if they have not been trained.”
In the meantime, he still isn’t sure what his ScareHouse title is.
ScareHouse Design Manager has a title for him, however. “He’s a f**king angel sent to us from heaven and he can never, ever leave us.”