Review: Spirit summoning sets spooky stage show
Last week, USC Aiken invited Magician Peter Boie to scare and entertain students on the Main Stage at the Etherredge Center. Boie is known for his humorous and mind-boggling tricks in his performances across the United States. He was also recently seen on television in the show Penn & Teller Fool Us.
Being in the Fine-Arts department and especially in theatre, students learn the techniques of providing special effects in performances. In this case, this performance of Summoning Spirits had a very simplistic set with only a chair, table, and a projector screen being used onstage. However, Peter Boie brought in his own elements of special effects and he even approached our very own Teddy Palmer, Assistant Tech-Director, to be the official voice-over for the show.
During the show, I knew that it wasn’t real, but the reactions from my fellow peers gave that sense of eeriness. His comedic timing also hooked students almost immediately. What really bothered me with the performance was that he brought a Ouija board inside the theatre. Adding to this, he also held an EVP session (Electronic Voice Phenomena) to talk to the dead. Historically, theatre is known for the tales of superstition and as a center for lost souls who died in horrible accidents during theatre events. For example, in backstage, there are small lights called “ghost-lights” that are left on all night when theatre professionals leave the theatre. The light “keeps” theatre ghosts happy and feeling not so alone, as the superstition goes.
If anyone has seen any film using an Ouija board, they’d know that getting involved with that object is surely bad news. Bringing an Ouija board inside of a theatre can also stir the pot of supernatural reactions. At first I didn’t care whether there was a video of an Ouija board being used, considering that it is used often in horror or suspenseful films. However having it physically present onstage immediately caused my heart to race and I felt sick.
The other element that made me unconvinced of the authenticity of the performance was the usage of an “EVP session.” EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomenon, is a phenomenon where sounds are recorded onto electronic devices, and the sounds are recognized as paranormal voices. Most EVPs have static, short messages that are hard to hear at a normal sound-range unless you have proper audio equipment to listen to it. Peter Boie conducted a “session” with a female student onstage and they recorded a fragment of the show. With my own experience of EVPs, I thought it was very strange that such an “EVP” onstage could be so clear and barely have any static or interference. I immediately knew that it was staged, but he made it very convincing to the majority of the audience.
Overall, I thought the performance was done well and it seemed that everyone was thoroughly entertained. Peter Boie is a showman and he is considerably a master in his craft. I would hope that he would be invited back to our campus for future performances at the Etherredge Center.