Skip Navigation

on many levels


the weirdest fucking thing that ever happened to me in the space

by sam kusnetz '02

it was the end of winter break, january 2002. i was working on a production of the persecution and assassination of jean-paul marat as performed by the inmates of the asylum of charenton under the direction of the marquis de sade which was to be performed in the upstairs space. we had been rehearsing during winter break down in new york, and then came up to brown about a week before classes started to get some uninterrupted in-the-space time.

after one long, productive day of rehearsal, the stage manager invited anyone who was interested over for drinks in the lounge at her sorority. most of us went. after some drinking and merriment, two of the sorority gals turned to me and mac vaughey and said, “hey! you guys will be able to figure this out!”

we were brought to a secluded room in the basement and put in front of a steel door. the ladies explained to us that the fraternity and sorority houses on wriston were all linked to one another, and to the ratty, by a network of underground tunnels. these had been in use back in the day when there were dining rooms in the frats, and food could be brought back and forth from the ratty by the kitchen staff. the tunnels had been sealed up years ago, and it was apparently a sort of standing challenge to crack into them.

mac and i were faced with the opportunity to not only exercise our technical skills, but in doing so to a) break something; b) dig around in a secret tunnel; c) very mildly stick it to the university; and d) impress a bunch of sorority women. naturally, we jumped at the chance.

we examined the door. “ok,” i said. “we're going to get tools. we'll be back in fifteen minutes.” mac turned from diana fithian, with whom he had been flirting shamelessly, and said to me, “to the tore-ass!”

the tore-ass was mac's 1990 ford taurus which he kept in terrible shape, but which nonetheless served him as a vehicle until the transmission fell out on college street. mac, diana (slightly drunk), and i jumped in the car, and drove over to pw. it was a perfectly clear night around ten or eleven p.m., about 15 degrees. we pulled up in the alley behind pw, and mac, subtly indicating diana, said, “you go grab tools, we'll wait here.”

i entered the shop, and flicked on the lights. at that time (pre-renovation), the shop was on the second floor, in the center of the building along the north wall. there were a set of double doors which opened out to the downstairs space (which might still be there?) so that scenery could be lowered down. the lights in the shop were old sodium vapor lamps which took five minutes to warm up, and in so doing cycled through every conceivable color before settling on a nice creamsicle hue.

as i gathered my tools in the dim, hazy glow of the sodiums, i heard some noise from the downstairs space. i noticed that the double doors were open, and there was a ladder propped against them, presumably to expedite the process of running back to the shop to grab extra nails or whatever. rebecca miller was directing a bright room called day at that time, and she was the sort to do touchy-feely actor excercises in the middle of the night. so i continued my business.

but then more noises. scuffling. and a pause, and then:

“hello!” an uneasy, slightly wild voice emanated from the gaping blackness.

“uh, hi?” i said.

“hello! are you there? i am here! are you there!?”

“who is this?” i asked.

“i am here. i am here!” he said.

ok, i thought. there's a madman in pw, and i'm going to die tonight.

i am here, and you are here,” he said.

“look,” i said, trying to think clearly. “who are you, and how did you get into pw?”

“i'm working with other people. there are others. we are together, but we are also apart. we're working together on many levels. many levels!”

“ok, sure,” i said. now i was really worried. there are others? am i going to be jumped? but i was also a little confused. and, ok, maybe a little curious. i slowly, very slowly, approached the door. “fine. but who are you?”

“am i here now! i am performing. this is a performance.”

and he launched into a long, rambling narrative about interconnectedness and other people who were here but not here, and the many levels.

“look,” i said. “my name is sam, and i'm one of the people responsible for this building. i need to know, right now, who you are and how you got in here.”

by now i was standing at the top of the ladder. i could make out the shape of a person down below, but there was not enought light to really see him.

“ok,” he said. “now you're here, too. we're both here. and we're in a performance, you and me. so… you need something, i need something. right?”

”…ok…” i said. now i was less scared, but more confused.

“ok,” he said, and gestured back and forth from him to me. “i'm going to give you something, but you have to give me something. this is a performance. i give, you give.”

and as my eyes adjusted, and the shop lights finally completed their sad chromatic crescendo, i really started to get a picture of this guy. he was thin and pale, about my height, with curly dark hair. and he was completely naked.

and there was blood all over his neck.

no! it was stage blood! this is a performance!

“how did you get in here!?” i asked, because now i was mad. he scared me with the blood, and it had gone from weird to scary back to weird a little too fast. “why aren't you wearing clothes!?”

he resumed his back and forth gesture. “ok. so… ok. you want something, i want something.”

“what do you want?” i asked.

“ok. put one hand on the ladder.”

i complied. “now tell me how you got in here,” i asked.

“through the window,” he said, patiently, as if to a child.

“would you put your clothes on please?”

“ok. put one foot on the ladder. we're here, we're on many levels. one foot on the ladder.”

i complied, he put on his pants, and turned to face me full front for the first time.

i asked him turn the lights on.

“ok. take one… take one step down the ladder.”

i complied. he turned away from me, and flicked the light switch. in the initial flicker of the lights, the situation changed dramatically once again.

it was not stage blood. he had a deep gash in his neck, and there was blood all over his chest, and several places on the floor.

he said, “take another step down the ladder.”

and i said, “step away from the ladder, and i'll come down. i need to know that you're not going to hurt me.” now i thought he might be armed.

he stepped away from the ladder, and i got down to the floor. on only one level at last. suddenly, i thought of mac and diana in the alley. how long had it been? half an hour, at least.

“my friends are waiting for me,” i said. “i need to go get them.”

his posture suddenly changed, and he yelled, “don't leave! don't leave me!”

“i'm not going anywhere. i'm just going to open the door, and get my friend. ok?”

he nodded. i quickly ducked out the back door, and yelled to mac.

“what's going on?” he asked, annoyed that i had pulled him away from his obviously fruitless flirting. “where have you been?”

“mac, there's a guy in the theatre. distract him while i call police and security.”

“what!?” and mac rushed in, and as i dialed my cell phone, i heard him trying to find out who this kid was, and getting the many levels speech in return.

five minutes later, police and security arrived with an emt. the boy appeared to be in a state of shock as the emt sat him down and dressed his wound. mac and i went into the hot room (directly across the hall from the downstairs space on the south wall of the building) and discovered that the guy had entered pw by smashing through a four by six foot window. shards of glass and pools of blood were on the floor.

i related the story to the officer, who told me that they had been cruising around looking for this guy for several hours. apparently he had been on the phone with his sister, started talking crazy, and dropped the phone. she got worried, called police and security, and they busted into his room to find the window open and him gone. boy found, case closed, and the cops started to leave.

“hey!” i said. “what about the blood all over my stage!?”

“oh, we'll send the hazardous waste disposal team over tomorrow. good night!” and they left.

mac and i staggered back to the car in a daze to find diana nearly asleep. we returned to the sorority to find the group we had left more than an hour ago in fine form, and related our bizarre tale.

and this bunch of drunken college kids who had spent the past several weeks rehearsing a play in which they played lunatics and rapists and pedophiles listened intently. and took the story in, i'm sure, on many levels.


the next day, the university hazardous waste disposal team arrived to deal with the blood. the team was two guys with hats that said “university hazardous waste disposal team”, a clipboard, and a bottle of bleach.

“would you direct us to the site in question, please, sir?”

i pointed weakly at the blood all over the stage. the guy with the bleach went over to the blood and sprayed bleach everywhere.

“thank you. sign here, please. thank you sir.”

and they were gone.

A Maya addition:

I was the tech director for “Bright Room Called Day,” the show that was being built in the downstairs space at the time. I showed up bright and early at 9 am on a Saturday to work on my set. It was the first set I built, and I was really rather proud of it.

You can imagine I was rather surprised to find a substantial amount of blood on the floor of the set when I arrived.

There had been, on some of the platforms, a small amount of stage blood from the previous show, Woyczek. It stubbornly refused to be scrubbed off the platforms, which was odd because it had been made of nothing but Hershey's chocolate sauce and red food coloring. My first thought was something along the lines of, “am I going crazy? I could swear there was only a tiny amount of blood, over in that corner…” It didn't look quite the same though… somewhat less shiny.

Sam walked in shortly, and found me standing confusedly in the middle of the stage staring at the floor, and shouted vehemently, “FUCKERS!!” He then related the story recounted above to me (a rather wide-eyed freshman quite impressed by his adventure, I'm sure), and explained that Facilities was supposed to have shown up by then to fix everything up.

He called them again and the aforementioned guys with bleach showed up, took note of the smashed window in hot room, and sprayed some bleach on the mess. They also told me not to touch it for the time being, and that was about it. But the story isn't quite over…

About half an hour later, after Sam had left, two guys in turquoise jumpsuits carrying little white metal cases showed up. They were the hazardous waste disposal guys, and explained that their job is to safely dispose of blood, vomit, urine, and feces. I said something like, “Wow, your job must suck.” They insisted that it didn't, and were very actually very energetic and friendly as they cleaned up the mess with latex gloves and little containers of white powder.

Once they were almost done, one of the guys said from a back corner, “Look, there's some more of it over here.”

“No, that's fake,” I said, “It's Hershey's chocolate sauce and red food coloring.”

He looked at me very strangely, as though he were wondering what on earth would possess me to make up a story like that.

“No, seriously,” I said, “It's left over from the last show. It won't come off.”

They looked at me skeptically and began to scrub at it with their little vial of white powder. A few moments later, the first guy looked back up at me and said, “What did you say this was?”

“Hershey's chocolate sauce and red food coloring.” “Why??” “It's stage blood.” “It's what? “This is a theater. It's stage blood. It's supposed to look real.” “Oh!”

Now they got it. They congratulated us on the convincingness of our stage blood, gathered up their white powders, and left.

stories/levels.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/21 02:00 (external edit)
Except where otherwise noted, content on this wiki is licensed under the following license: CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Recent changes RSS feed Donate Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS Run by Debian Driven by DokuWiki