May 23rd, 2024

Trio of horrors set to splatter U of L stage

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on April 21, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Costume, props and special effects designer Carla Simon shows one of her 3D printed pieces for the Kiss of Blood play at the costume and props design studio of the University of Lethbridge.


The University of Lethbridge Drama Department is gearing up for their final mainstage production, which is set to have their audience squirming in their seats and shrieking with fear and delight.
They caution their last performance is not meant for the faint of heart as there will be blood gushing, brain fluid and dismemberment among other gory effects.
A Night at the Grand Guignol: 2022 is a curated evening of three short plays. The Lighthouse Keepers by Paul Autier and Paul Cloquemin, Kiss of Blood by Jean Aragny and Francis Neilson, and an adaptation of The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.
Audiences will be led by an emcee who will weave together the three stories while interacting with those in attendance.
“The emcee character itself was really challenging to play because there was a lot of information I had to learn about the Grand Guignol itself,” said Quinn Larder, emcee.
He said his character is like Willy Wonka if he was goth and inspired as well by singer Alice Cooper.
Larder said he is the connection between the audience and the performance.
“I’m with the audience, I interact with them. So, if someone says something in the crowd I will call them out and maybe put them on the spot, maybe embarrass them a little,” said Larder.
His costume was designed by MFA student Jamie Johnson who said she was inspired by different sources and one of them was Alice Cooper because of what he has done in previous performances which align with the theme of what the Grand Guignol was.
The Grand Guignol, a theatre in the Pigalle district of Paris, specialized in horror-style variety performances and was open from 1897-1962. The productions were notoriously spectacular, featuring naturalistic special effects that were rumoured to induce fainting or vomiting among audience members.
“Through the research that we were doing on the show, the inspirations behind the emcee character, Alice Cooper was my favourite one because if you’ve ever been or seen an Alice Cooper concert, his shows are very much Grand Guignol-esque. He’s had his head severed, he’s done all kinds of out there things that are horrifying,” said Johnson.
Johnson also designed the masks for the third play, the adaptation of The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.
“For that we’re at a masquerade party and everything is kind of weird, we’re not really in a specific historical period so there’s a lot of layering of different periods in the designs,” said Johnson.
She said they are also in a world where nothing is traditional, things are kind of weird so there are some fun surprises in the costuming.
For Kiss of Blood, audiences can expect to see costumes, props and special effects designed by master of costume design student, Carla Simon, who said there will be blood spraying, brain fluid oozing out of brains and body parts being chopped off.
“Because there is not a staff member that does special effects, I made and produced all the special effects for my show Kiss of Blood,” said Simon.
She said she explored the time period of the Grand Guignol and focused in the period of 1910-1930 at the height of the Grand Guignol’s popularity.
This final Mainstage production of the 2021-2022 season will take place at the University of Lethbridge Theatre (W500) for only two nights, April 22 and 23, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at the University Box Office Monday to Friday, from 12:30pm to 3:30pm or online at
Tickets are $18 regular, $13 for seniors and alumni, and $12 for students.
University of Lethbridge students are eligible for one complimentary ticket with their student ID. Masking is mandatory.

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