CREATURES FEATURES:
A Short & Precise Pictoral & Narrative History Of The Patient Creatures.

 

At various events I've attended in the past years, I've given out my website address to those who whish to follow my performances and travels, or keep in touch by dropping me a line or two. Invariably, when I give the name “patientcreatures.com”, there is a smile and a raised eyebrow of surprise. Occasionally someone will comment on the site name, and ask, “What does that mean? Patient Creatures?” And it occurs to me that many do not know the history of my band of performers that traveled with me those years ago.

This Halloween, I wish to commemorate my macabre brethren (and sistren) by regaling the history of The Patient Creatures, to help satisfy the curiosity of those who have asked, and those who have not, out of courtesy or shyness. After this month's CAMERA OBSCURA, I'll be placing this on its own page, so those coming new to my wanderings can have a sense of where it all began, long ago and faraway…

 

Yours Truly in front of the wonderful sign painted by George, the artist of AdventureWorld, at my very first storytelling theater at AdventureWorld. As you can see it's more than a little exposed to the elements, dampening more than this spirit when it rained! Not long thereafter it was decided to give me a more sheltered structure to spin yarns in.

 

The Patient Creatures first came together at the late, lamented Haunted Theatre of Jeffersonville, PA. (About 30 minutes north of Philadelphia .) The Haunted Theatre was part of the Barn Playhouse, an organization known for mixing standard favorites (My Fair Lady, South Pacific) with innovative and experimental, non-commercial works (A Midsummer Nights Dream, Servant Of Two Masters). The theatre was able to do the non-commercial works because it was guaranteed making its yearly budget from the Haunted Theatre.

 

One of my favorite photos from the park; a rainy evening, and Yours Truly is out for a stroll among my fellow spectres in all my damp, monochrome glory...

Birds of a feather: The founder and artistic voice behind Fright Fest, the Great Pumpkin himself, Frank Clever, and his favorite wandering spirit.

 

At the time he Creatures first arrived, the Haunted Theatre was the premiere haunted house in the Pennsylvania area. (And don't think me immodest; that was the opinion of most of the customers, as well as many of the newspapers in the area.) The Haunted Theatre consisted of 13 rooms. Each one told a short story with a scare at the end that pushed you into the next room. The directors of the Theatre prided themselves on a distinct lack of graphic gore (although several of the rooms got a bit intense) and good clean shock. This was the mandate of the Haunted Theatre's leader, the late Arlene Sargent. She believed in the principal of the 'good scare'; that it was entirely possible to frighten someone too much, and if the audience wasn't enjoying themselves, there was no point to them attending. (A theory I wholeheartedly agree with.)

 

My Cousin's pride and joy; the metallic-silver hearse that ferried him and my fellow Creatures about during our various appearances throughout the country. It was regal, dignified, macabre, and drank gasoline like man emerging from the Sahara after a three-day crawl. After a time it was exchanged for a bright white vehicle, still as impressive. (Notice our friend from the park Michael attempting to hitch a ride!)

 

I was not the first member of the Patient Creatures to wander in among the other spectres of the Theatre. My Cousin Mr. Reaper (Grim to his friends; and enemies…) was there several years before I arrived, frightening and enthralling the customers and his fellow ghosts alike. I arrived in 1989; shortly after my arrival other members of our troop began to assemble. I believe these years 1989 to 1991 were the most innovative and artistically successful of the Theatre. Among those who achieved a certain amount of fame were the witch Haggatha, the spider woman Cobweb, and my Cousin's family, including his wife Azrael and Baby Grim Jr. Many of these would go on to join the Patient Creatures in their other wanderings. My Cousin also acquired an apprentice about this time; a lovely young girl named Belle, short for Belladonna, who dressed in her own black robe, complete with sickle!

 

The original Patient Creatures. From left to right: Yours Truly, Cobweb, Haggatha, Kuzibah, my Cousin, Hester, and Kamara, one of our alternate vampires who would join us on occasion.

 

After a time, I decide to depart the Theatre. I wandered south to the state of Maryland , where the amusement park called AdventureWorld was preparing its own Halloween celebration. My friend Frank, the Great Pumpkin, invited me to participate, and the first year I attend the celebration (then called HallowScream) by myself. I posed for many photos, signed several autographs, and told many stories. Apparently the Park personnel were pleased, and the next year all my fellow Creatures were invited down as well. I gathered together the best of my Haunted Theatre companions, and the Patient Creatures traveling company was born!

 

A trio of true theatrical hams, my companions; the effervescent Miss Scarlett, divaesque Kuzibah, and my Cousin, looking bemused as usual...

My Cousin, Kuzibah and Myself in front of my second Storytelling Theatre, with the beautiful hand-painted sign from George; because I moved to a larger building after this year, the park graciously gave me my sign, and it still proudly adorns a corner of my crypt.

 

Those who accompanied me south included Haggatha, Cobweb, and my Cousin and his Wife. Joining us for the first time was the vampire Jeanette, a saucy cockney Carnaby Street personality; the mischievous swamp witch Hester Quagmire; and another spectre who would earn her place in both the company and my heart: my devilish story-apprentice Kuzibah!

After appearing at AdventureWorld for three years, the park went through a transformation worthy of the most fearsome spectre, rebuilding several sections and becoming Six Flags America! The event then became known forever-after as Fright Fest.

 

The Fab Four; the core group of the Patient Creatures  - 
Kuzibah, Grim, Miss Scarlett, and their Fearful Leader.

 

After a time, several of the Patient Creatures decided to wander off on their own, as spirits are wont to do. Some, like Haggatha, simply tired of the traveling; while others, like Hester, found opportunities to perform on her own at various Renaissance Faires across the country. So that for one season, only my Cousin, Kuzibah, and myself remained to greet our yearly visitors. The following year, our delightfully daffy vampire Miss Scarlett joined us and we four became the core group of The Patient Creatures for the next several years.

 

Two views of Yours Truly entertaining from the stage my own Storytelling Theatre

 

Among our many duties at AdventureWorld (and later Six Flags), we would greet the patrons entering the park at the opening, and then bid farewell to them as they left at the end of the long evening. In between we would walk along the various avenues saying hello and interacting with the customers, posing for photos, and signing the occasional autograph. If the lines to different attractions (particularly the Haunted House, the Ghost Train and the Spooky Hayride) became quite long, we would wander over and entertain those waiting to make the time pass more pleasantly. At other times, because of various illnesses or absences during the night (October could be along, cold, damp month, and even I lost my voice at one time during a particularly busy weekend) we would find ourselves filling in at the attractions themselves, taking position in one of the dark corridors of the House or in the winding walls of the Monster Maze.

 

Inside the Saloon Theatre in the Wild West section after the Costume Contest. The small doppelganger in the front is Cathleen; she first began attending the Halloween event at the tender age of two, and became quite enamored (along with her whole family) with the Creatures, myself in particular. One year, when asked what she wanted to be for Halloween, she exclaimed, "Carpathian!" And her grandmother acquiesced, coming to the park and snapping dozens of photos of me from different angles. She became the hit of the park, and actually outgrew two Carpathian costumes before we concluded our performance run at Six Flags. She's grown into a bright and lovely young lady, a serious student involved in her community. I hope she still holds a special place in her heart for a certain spectre...

 

Of course, my primary duty at the Park was to tell stories, much as I do now during my wanderings. I had my own theater each year that I worked there, although its location would shift several times during the years. At first it was an outdoor arena in the Children's Section of the park, and I stood on a stage facing a small amphitheater exposed to the elements, where I would perform 4 – 5 shows each day. It was a wonderful place, but a few damp nights convinced everyone involved that it would be better if my event was enclosed from the weather.

 

"What to do here at Six Flags for Halloween?" Miss Scarlett consults the visitors guide for the FRIGHT FEST activities. Take a look at the handsome gentleman adorning the brochure's cover!

 

The following year I had a small building, but the crowd size soon determined that I needed a larger location. Over in the water park was a water coaster ride, and the main building was transformed each October into my storytelling place. I was there for a few years, and the Theatre was easily recognized by a huge skull-faced mountain directly behind the building. (The water ride was part of a pirate attraction, and it suited my needs perfectly! There was even talk each year about customizing the mountain to resemble me more closely, but that never came to fruition.)

 

My young shadow Cathleen and I on stage during the nightly Costume Contest in the Wild West Saloon Theatre; quite an impressive building, as you can see.

 

When AdventureWorld became Six Flags America, it was constantly building and expanding the park. A new saloon theater was added to the Western section, and the children's dance show “Monster Mash” moved from its theater in the center of the park to this new location. Because my storytelling crowds were growing, I was moved to the previous “Monster Mash” theater, and I remained there the rest of my time at the park. My Cousin, who had developed his own show of presenting short horror-themed films and serial episodes, and then inviting the audience to join him in commenting out loud, ala MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, took over my skull theater. The following year he was moved to my storytelling theater, and we alternated shows throughout the remainder of our run. It was good to have all the Patient Creatures together in one location from that point on!

 

The impressive sign over the entrance to My Cousin's movie show, with a meeting of the dignified dead parading in front. The young man in the middle is named Michael; he was a frequent visitor and a huge fan of the Creatures, as is evident by his chosen attire!

My Cousin strikes an ominous and altogether appropriate pose beside the aptly named " Skull Mountain " just outside his (and my) original theater.

 

During the remainder of our time at Six Flags we would add other Creatures to our band of entertainers. These included a juggler and fire-eater named Knox, who liked to spend time at our Theatre flirting with Scarlett and Kuzibah; a ferocious looking but astonishingly gentle ogre named Og who made the children laugh with his graceful dancing (no, I won't explain that further; stop asking me), and our final member, the ethereal, lovely and sometimes ear-piercing banshee named Moira, who would also travel with us to other venues join our performances. Moira became a permanent member of the company and continues with the others to this day.

 

And then there were five...the gentleman in the porkpie hat is Knox, our fire-eater/juggler companion who frequented our home during our later seasons. No, I have no idea what we're doing here; obviously the demaqnds of the Season have taken their toll...

 

After ten years at the amusement park, it was time to continue on to other endeavors. My human companion Bob decided to move west to the Lost Coast , and I sadly bid farewell to my macabre companions and decided to join him. Since then, I have wandered the rocky shores of Eureka , Arcata, Trinidad , and the other towns of Humboldt County , while venturing out across the country again from my home cemetery here, to places as diverse as FaerieWorlds in Eugene , OR and the upcoming All-Hallows Faire in Sonora , CA . I have made new companions and enjoyed the company of other talents performers, such as Paul Woodland and Seabury Gould.

 

A wonderful addition to our roster, our "Fifth Beatle" for a time, the ogre Og. As fearsome as he appeared, he was gentle and soft-spoken, and the children adored him as a living Henson creation!

 

The other Creatures continue to perform back on the other side of the country. They are still primarily known as the Patient Creatures, but distinguish themselves officially as Creatures East (on the off-chance that I still may put together some macabre companions to tour withy me again here in the west). Miss Scarlett has gone her own way, as vampires are want to, but Kuzibah and Grim can still be found at events such as HorrorFind in Gettysburg, Monster Bash in Pittsburgh, and the yearly Blobfest celebration in Phoenixville, PA, at the movie theater where the famous scene from that film was shot. They are occasionally joined by Moira, who has herself gone on to other pursuits and haunts.

 

Two beauties from the nether realms; Miss Scarlett and the final addition to the Patient Creatures  -  the Irish banshee Moira!

 

Will we ever perform together again? I am asked that occasionally from others who remember the troupe from days past. I don't see why not, since I am again traveling outside the North Coast , although the logistics (and distances) make it uncertain. There have been times in the past year when its seemed possible; if such an event occurs, I will certainly let everyone know here in my virtual crypt. Until there, know that it was a fine time, a Renaissance, a time deeply enjoyed by all and recognized as something very special, and special things are rare and far-between; we knew this at the time, and determined to bask happily in every moment.

And we did.

 

Happy Halloween, to all my Friends and Traveling Companions past, present, and yet-to-come!

 

Special thanks to all our friends who've taken photos of us throughout the years for these pictures!

 


© 2008 Patient Creatures Ltd.