Kentucky Shakespeare premieres ‘Enter Ghost,’ a creepy, immersive play inspired by ‘Hamlet’
This is the seventh year Kentucky Shakespeare has mounted a Halloween-esque production, and this season’s premiere takes inspiration from “Hamlet” and the spooky lore of the neighborhood the company calls home.
“Enter Ghost,” running through Oct. 30, is a choose-your-own-adventure style play that immerses audiences into the story using silent disco headphone technology and 4,800 square feet of the company’s Old Louisville headquarters.
Actors will split the audiences into smaller groups, guiding them through the production’s theatrical labyrinth.
“It’s not a haunted house, and it’s not structured like a haunted house, but there's the haunted house DNA, for sure,” said playwright Steve Moulds, who co-wrote the show.
Kentucky Shakespeare producing artistic director Matt Wallace described it as the company’s most ambitious undertaking to date.
“We push ourselves even further outside of our box, and our mission is to take Shakespeare off the pedestal,” he said.
Wallace has been toying with the idea of incorporating silent disco headphones into a show since the organization's 2020 production of “Macbeth.” For that show, they used a parking lot as the venue and pumped sound into people’s cars via radio broadcast with a short-range FM transmitter. That audio element was the seed of “Enter Ghost,” he said.
The creative team landed on “Hamlet” because they wanted something recognizable, said playwright and “Enter Ghost” co-writer Diana Grisanti.
“We wanted a lot of sort of cultural memory, and of course, there's that with all Shakespeare, but 'Hamlet' especially,” she said.
“Hamlet” also lends itself to the season, given the centuries-old tragedy features a ghost doing its fair share of haunting.
Grisanti has a deep fascination with ghosts and “theatrical ghosts.”
“To my mind, sort of the whole of Shakespeare is ghostly because it's iterative — we keep doing it over and over again,” she said. “And so this sort of literalizes that ghostly metaphor.”
There’s some Shakespearean text in the Louisville production, but ultimately “Enter Ghost” is its own story, sprinkled with local mythology. Wallace said they thought it would be fun to lean into the legends of Old Louisville hauntings.
“The famed Witches’ Tree is a half block away, and we're here in this area and really tying that into the story,” he said.
Reluctant to say more about the show out of fear of sharing spoilers, Wallace offered this: “You can come to this performance multiple times and you will have a different experience every time. You will learn new things about different characters, insight into different characters.”
And while the play’s eerie and creepy ethos is likely to unnerve some audience members, Grisanti said there’s levity in the work as well.
“There are plenty of jokes,” she said. “It certainly has a sense of humor.”
Disclosure: LPM podcast director Laura Ellis did the sound design for this show.