“Oh my God,” the incredulous members of Schema said, gasping as I announced my presence as a TSL reporter. “The Ouija board was right.”
Ordinarily, this kind of statement would feel strangely out of place. But at Schema’s Friday the 13th celebration, it fit the mercurial mood of the night perfectly.
Schema, a student arts collective comprised of 5C visual and performance artists, celebrated the unique phobia called paraskevidekatriaphobia—better known as the fear of Friday the 13th.
The celebration took place inside the hauntingly echo-prone walls of Pomona College’s amphitheater. The artists placed various pieces around the concrete seats and had a variety of occult activities for visitors to enjoy.
“We wanted to organize a party that was based around the strange and occult,” said Davis Menard PO ’17, who helped organize the event. “It was fun, and the program ended up being really relaxed.”
Beginning at 6:00 pm and lasting long into nighttime, the members had an intriguing schedule. Though not all of the events were carried out, the list included positive-thinking hypnosis, numerology-infused puppet shows, love potions, coffee ground readings, elven chanting, high-energy Zumba moves paired with heavy metal music (called Exercise & Exorcise), utopian mapmaking, and human sacrifices set to “hellish soundscapes.”
“The point of hypnosis was to remove their negative emotions and replace them with positive ones,” Menard said. “We wanted to communicate with spirits on that plane and channel the ‘Other.’”
One of the most popular attractions was a giant Ouija board, which visitors maneuvered while blindfolded.
“We were asking questions on the board, like ‘what is the spirit of the Greek Theatre’ and ‘what are some visitors we’ll see tonight,’” Elise Hansell CMC ’15 said. “And on my turn, I walked around and spelled out the letters T, S, and L.”
She later added with a laugh, “That’s a true story. You can fact-check it.”
Alongside the performing arts, some astounding visual pieces were mounted around the theater. One offered a cozy outdoor reading nook—complete with books, an antique chair, a desk and a light—where visitors could peruse unusual books.
Another area showcased a miniature statue composed of cardboard-like materials. Its hands reached around its body, and a painted face revealed wide eyes and a prominent nose. The statue was located on top of a wall, which had been wrapped with a garland of tissue paper designs and Christmas lights.
Schema prides itself on its interesting, thought-provoking exhibitions and festivals, and the Friday the 13th celebration was no exception for audience members. “Contact,” an upcoming show billed for Mar. 9, is also presented by the arts group The Balcony, and contains student works of art on the theme of modern-day communication.
One of Schema’s goals is to provide an open-minded community on campus for anyone interested in artistic collaboration. This festival was certainly representative of that—a group of individualistic artists who come together and create something that many can enjoy.
“It was a great night,” Menard said, as the DJ played eerie mash-up music and the group cleaned up. “Of course, everyone here is now bound to the dark forces that govern the universe.”