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Oh boy, am I a sucker for a good Japanese ghost story. There is just something about them that resonates with me. I think it is the focus on spirits that exact a cruel form of justice and vengeance. The cold callousness mixed with an almost deserved karma. It speaks to me. I first read the English re-tellings of many of these ancient folklore by an author named Lafcadio Hearn, a sort of Brothers Grimm for Japanese supernatural stories, when I was in high school, and I have been entranced ever since.

So imagine my immediate interest when I heard that this Halloween season would introduce a new immersive haunt experience based on these stories! It is a magnetic and innovative DIY production from Rogue Artists Ensemble and East West Players called Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin.

Reggie Yip
Photo by Rebecca Bonebrake

In it, “you receive a letter from a woman who is haunted by a mysterious event in her past—and she needs your help. When you arrive at her family’s warehouse, you ascend to the fifth and sixth floors in a creaking freight elevator, followed by a voice that calls out through the shadows, drowning you in echoes of wells and engines and graveyards, in tangles of hair and snow, in sharp reflections of your darkest moments—a voice that may not be human.”

I got the chance to interview the director Sean T. Cawelti, co-writer Chelsea Sutton, and Jasmine Orpilla,
one of the lead actors of this piece, after experiencing it myself. I also wanted to get another perspective on the experience, so I invited my friend Kim Garland to co-host this podcast with me. She is a brilliant filmmaker in her own right, and you can check out her stuff here. I am happy to have her with me to give her account of the performance (and to protect me from ghosts)! This will be a spoiler free look at the process of bringing this atmospheric, creepy, and classic stories to life in an immersive way that encourages audience participation. I encourage you to check it out if you are anywhere near Los Angeles!

Jasmine Orpilla
Photo by Chelsea Sutton

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