Eastern State Penitentiary is scary enough on any ordinary day — with its intimidating neo-Gothic structure and dark history as a prison dating back to 1829. When Halloween season rolls around, however, Eastern State Penitentiary becomes the perfect setting for a haunted attraction and for the past 26 years, its Terror Behind the Walls event has been a Philadelphia tradition.
While I’ve gone through the 11-acre prison many times as an attendee, I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be an actor in the production. This year, I got to find out, as I was invited to perform as a zombie nurse for one night of fright.
I arrived straight from work, sans makeup and drained from a long day at the office. But the minute I entered the backstage area, the 200 actors I encountered had the sort of enthusiasm that was contagious.
There I met Costume and Props Director Alisa Kleckner, who had my zombie nurse costume all ready to go. “This one of our favorite looks,” she said after helping attach my leather belt and metal syringe.