ALONE: AN EXISTENTIAL HAUNTING is known for creating immersive experiences that send individuals off on quests to solve puzzles throughout Los Angeles. Part puzzle solving, part exploration, part dancing with unicorns, and part horror, you never know exactly what you will get from this entertaining company. ALONE sent us on an adventure through Long Beach at last year’s debut of Midsummer Scream and returned again this year to give guests yet another fun experience.
As usual, ALONE did not have a set booth listed. Veterans knew to simply look for something slightly strange and of course seek out a triangle. Fortunately they were listed in the program and surely even if you had not done any of their events in the past would be able to find out how to partake with some investigative skills. Strolling around the vendor floor, one would stumble upon a vacated booth with the table and chairs flipped upside down, a triangle in tape on the flipped table, and sheets of paper with questions and some instructions at the bottom.
This year ALONE emphasized memory. The questions primarily focused on memory retention. The form asked you to rate your answers on a scale of 1-5. Once completed you were asked to have a childhood memory ready to share. The next task involved seeking out a representative from ALONE. This took a little more scavenging to find out where these reps were located. Once again the key is to look for that triangle. Eventually you would find someone with a clipboard and a tape recorder with the triangle again taped to it. This individual would then look at your completed questionnaire and review your answers asking you a few things about your memory. This ended with the tape recorder being held up and recounting that childhood memory. After which you would be escorted to an area that was enclosed by black curtains holding your questionnaire in front of your face. This transitions into the next phase.
Once you cross the threshold the experience shifts and you have no vision throughout. Paper is taped over your face and you are seated listening to a recording about a memory along with sounds that would typically be used in assisting with sensory deprivation. There are a few things repeated throughout, most prominently you will hear photocopies of photocopies of photocopies and generational loss. Everything else allows for the participant to reflect on whatever may strike a personal nerve.
From the years of participating in ALONE I have stopped trying to place a singular meaning on what is being conveyed other than the overarching theme. It is ambiguous and I think this works simply because we can project whatever we desire into the experience and take what you will from it. This is something I have grown to appreciate as it allows for personal reflection of sorts. After sitting and listening for a while you are brought into a dark space, moved around for disorienting purposes and guided to lie on one’s back. More paper is taped around the legs, arms, hands, chest, and back. All the while, someone is guiding you to caress their face and head as someone else is touching your body and face. Eventually you will be assisted up and sent back into the ordinary world covered in photocopies of someone.
For me, the experience was fun and consistent with their events. It was certainly a highlight of my weekend at Midsummer Scream. If you did not get to experience the event, I would suggest following them on Facebook and Instagram and to keep an eye out for any hints to future events. It is hard to really just explain what it’s like to attend their shows without having experienced it personally; my recommendation is to just see for yourself if you have the opportunity.