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One Spookyvillage

Last modified: 10/11/2012 12:00:00 AM
They weren't much for tomfoolery, those Shakers. They worked hard, they lived simply, and they steered clear of the entanglements of carnal love.

But let's not forget that the folks who invented the flat broom and the clothespin, who spent their days making no-frills furniture and their nights sleeping in separate beds, were also highly spiritual people, perfectly comfortable with dancing and clapping in the church pews on Sunday.

A good ghost tale, it would seem, was not beneath them.

'They had several stories that had been passed on through oral tradition,' said Maisie Keith Daly, education manager at Canterbury Shaker Village. 'As far as the people who experienced them were concerned, they were all true.'

Daly has collected those tales and turned them into a performance tour called 'Ghost Encounters,' an eerie, immersive series of stories set in various places around the village. Costumed actors will portray six characters - a guide, a sous chef, an intern, a textiles expert, a historian and Eldress Elizabeth Stirling - relating their experiences with otherworldly spirits.

The Shaker-style spook-fest is based on research done by several historians over the years. Daly said it was easy to get into the spirit of things as she visited the places where the encounters allegedly happened and worked on dramatizing the tales. 'I have to say that when I was working on blocking the piece, I really felt a sense of impact,' she said. 'When you're in the space and you're hearing the story, it really takes on a new dimension.'

The ghost stories are in keeping with the authentic atmosphere of the historic village, Daly said. Many Shakers believed that people's spirits lingered on Earth for a while after death, awaiting passage to their final destination.

If they were right, perhaps visitors will get more ghostly encounters than they bargained for this weekend.

Tours will take place tomorrow and Saturday at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-17 (the tour is not recommended for young children). Reservations are required and can be made by calling 783-9077, ext. 230, or visiting shakers.org.


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