Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Tom Salamon: Goosebumps Alive

By | Published on Thursday 7 April 2016


You read the Goosebumps books when you were younger, didn’t you? You might even have read them relatively recently, if you’re not bound by that whole ‘kids’ books are for kids’ rule. Either way, wouldn’t you relish the chance to attend a live, immersive, interactive performance, based on those RL Stine novels…?

You would? Well, you’re in luck, because, as you might already know,  it’s happening right now over at The Vaults. To find out more about ‘Goosebumps Alive’, I put some questions to the director, experienced immersive creator Tom Salamon.

CM: Tell us about the show. Does it have a narrative, or is it more a sequence of experiences…?
TS: We’ve created a narrative arc for the whole ninety minutes that also allows for a sequence of experiences and individual stories as well. The Goosebumps world has so many tales, we wanted to figure out a way to tell a bunch of them, in a number of different ways. The whole thing is designed as one big story, but it includes multiple diverse stories throughout

CM: What kind of interactions can audiences expect?
TS: Many! Some pieces put you in the middle of the action, toe to toe with the characters. Some engage right to you, others you witness in their space right up next to them, and some require some action on your part to get through.

CM: The press release mentions that though it’s based on children’s literature, it has an ‘adult twist’ – what kind of twists are we talking about?
TS: We wanted to create something for adults that would allow for them to be nostalgic for the stories they may have read as children, and recognise iconic elements from them, but also re-imagine them for adult fears and laughs. It’s not a recreation of the Goosebumps stories themselves, it’s more of a reboot/remix treatment for adults.

CM: Whose idea was it to create a show based on the Goosebumps series? What was the motivation?
TS: The Vaults’ producer Kieron Vanstone came to me with the idea to create an immersive experience based on the Goosebumps books. It was an exciting challenge to adapt such a wealth of material – over 70 books to choose from – but I didn’t want to do it for kids. When they said they wanted it “adult, scary, dark, funny”, I was in.

CM: Are there gory special effects?
TS: There’s a blood budget on this show. There’s a noose. There are knives and needles.  It’s not overtly gory, but there are some dark scenarios that play out in very tense atmospheres.

CM: Who else is involved in the creation of the show?
TS: The team is huge, over eighty people.  I co-wrote the show with Gabriel Green, it’s been designed by visionary Sam Wyer collaborating with the team of Darling and Edge, dramatically lit by Charlie Jones, and the fantastically creepy sound design is by Daffyd Gough.

CM: Apparently there will be a children’s version later in the year – how will that differ from this adult version?
TS: The kid’s version will use the same sets and spaces, but is being written and directed by Rob Watt who is creating a show for younger crowd who would find the adults version much too scary.

CM: You specialise in immersive work, don’t you? What drew you to creating this kind of performance?
TS: I got my start in immersive work creating experiences for audiences that placed them in the middle of a noir-esque adventure in the real world: street corners, bars, shops, etc. Actors would be placed among these actual locations and the audience would be thrust into a story. It used the city (New York, London, Hollywood) as the stage. Conversely, ‘Goosebumps Alive’ allows us to create a complete world using the vast spaces of The Vaults as the blank canvas.

CM: What’s next for you?
TS: I’m sure I’ll spend the coming months lurking in the corners of The Vaults, watching people scream with fright because of ‘Goosebumps Alive’.

‘Goosebumps Alive’ is on at The Vaults from 6 Apr-4 Sep. See this page here for more info and to book.

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