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Do you have the guts for these scream-tastic jobs? Alton Towers in search of Scarefest staff this Halloween

By Rebecca Stanley | Staffordshire | Attractions | Published:

Hundreds of specialist actors, make-up artists, technicians, set designers and costume creators are being recruited to help create the UK’s biggest live Halloween event staged at Alton Towers.

Jack Lewis performing at Scarefest

Throughout October, the 500 acre Staffordshire-based theme park will undergo a complete transformation to host Scarefest, which attracts hundreds of thousands of guests each year.

More than 600 applicants have already been interviewed and auditioned across the UK to become part of the 'ultimate scream team', with a handful of positions still up for grabs including performers, audio visual technician, live shows and attractions hosts, as well as operational roles across the theme park.

The final seven opportunities are coming up at the Theme Park and the surrounding area over the next three weeks. Successful candidates will join the 2,500 strong team responsible for Scarefest.

Among those recruited are 182 performers including specialist ‘scare actors’. They will be placed in one of the park’s award-winning scare mazes.

Performer, Jack Lewis, 30, is one of the Resort’s designated scare actors and has been crafting his skill since his late teens. He said: “I have played so many roles as a scare actor, from a rotting sailor to an alien, from a neon coloured carnival clown dipped in toxic waste to an infected military operative.

Jack Lewis performing at Scarefest

"Whatever character I am, I always imagine that the guests are the camera in their own personal horror movie.

"I’m the villain or whatever else I need to be to make it the ultimate, immersive experience for them. It’s not just about jumping out on people and shouting boo, far from it.

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"There’s a lot more technique to being a scare actor and sometimes the best ways to make people scared is by being unpredictable or even just silently staring.

“The reaction of the guests who appreciate your performance is really rewarding. You know you’ve done a good job and got the desired reaction, whether that’s a scream, a jump scare or even a laugh.

"It’s like the round of applause a stage performer would expect.”

Alton Ancestors

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“After joining the team, all new recruits receive intensive training in bespoke ‘scare workshops’ that focus on characterisation, animation, scare techniques, positioning and wellbeing.”

Rebecca Ochwat, 37, originally from Wolverhapmton who has relocated to Staffordshire to be part of the team, said: “I did my first Scarefest in 2006 after playing a lead role in a national touring production of the Bird Cage.

“I went to the first workshop after being recruited and it was like nothing I had been to before. You got to explore your character and I soon learnt that even a zombie needs a backstory.

"For this you would need to come up with a personality for the zombie and ask yourself ‘who was this zombie before it became infected?’

“Being a scare actor is like going to work in your own horror movie every day and you’re the star of the show. You feed off guest energy.

Rebecca Ochwat performing at Scarefest

"When they are enjoying it and screaming, it really gears you up for the next group nervously coming around the corner.

“I actually come from a family of actors, performers, singers and dancers, and in 2010 both my sisters and my brother were trained to be scare actors. So scare became a real family affair.”

Transforming the actors into ghouls is in the hands of the special effects make-up artists, costume designers and production managers.

It takes five months of preparations before Scarefest is ready to be unveiled to the public on Saturday, October 5.

The takeover, which runs over 21 dates and ends on November 3, includes five actor-led scare mazes, live entertainment and themed family activities.

Altonville Mine Tours

Kieran Kimberley, creative manager for Scarefest at Alton Towers Resort, is the man responsible for making spines shiver and toes tingle.

He joined the team in 2011 as scare actor and has worked his way up to his current role as one of the Resort’s ‘scaresperts’.

He said: “Scarefest is the busiest and most intense time of the year for us here at Alton Towers Resort.

"Each year we are continually looking for new ways to spark fear and create immersive experiences, through new technologies and existing methods.

"It’s led us to be renowned for being the most popular destination for those looking for a seasonal spook and scare.

Altonville Mine Tours

“We look at emerging trends and popular culture to start crafting an idea, but some ideas are simply my minds’ rolodex of fear.

"We will then come up with a back story and work out how this can be communicated to the guest as they experience the maze.

"This can include what characters, environments and settings we need to create.

“This time of year is a stark contrast to the rest of the theme park season where we have a more light-hearted programme of entertainment, which makes the job incredibly varied and one of the most fun in the world.”

Scarefest actors hard at work

Upcoming opportunities to join the Scarefest team at Alton Towers Resort will take place on Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22 at Alton Towers Resorts.

Other opportunities will take place on Wednesday, September 18, Thursday, September 19, Tuesday, September 24, and Friday, September 27 at various locations in Staffordshire.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the roles available, registering their interest and details of how to apply should visit this link.

Scarefest 2019 will take place on Saturday, October 5, to Sunday, October 6, and Saturday, October 12, to Sunday, October 13, then each day between October 18 and November 3.

Alton Ancestors

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Rebecca Stanley

By Rebecca Stanley
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.stanley@expressandstar.co.uk

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