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Scary circus coming to town

Emerson Arts’ Fright Night: Carnival will transform the Cotton Factory into the backstage of a creepy carnival. A Christmas show will be staged at the former industrial building, too. 

For the first time, the Hamilton-based theatre company Emerson Arts has managed to secure the Cotton Factory as a venue for two of its upcoming productions this year and possibly more next year. 

"We are so grateful for the opportunity to be working with the Cotton Factory and their incredible support," says Mason Micevski, playwright and Emerson co-owner. 

"It would be nice to have a permanent place, However, our primary objective is making sure that we are creating opportunities for artists, so right now, the Cotton Factory is the perfect venue.”

The first one-hour production, Fright Night: Carnival, is virtually sold out for all of its performances on Oct. 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28.

This venue represents a change from the previous three years of Emerson’s annual Fright Night productions which were held outdoors. In earlier productions, the location was not disclosed to ticket holders until 24 hours before the production.

In the new version of Fright Night, patrons are met by two actors portraying the Bearded Lady and Fortune Teller characters who take them on a wild and scary tour inside the Cotton Factory, which is transformed into the backstage of a carnival where an innocent runaway experiences some horrifying truths.

During the day the Cotton Factory, a former industrial complex, hums with the activity of artist studios, offices and various types of businesses.

But at night all of these leased spaces are empty and closed as the interior is transformed into a setting of creepy hallways, hidden doors and secret stairwells for Fright Night 

"We are taking audience members on a night-time tour of the Cotton Factory that no one has experienced before," says Micevski. 

Patrons are asked to meet 30 minutes before the show begins at 8 p.m. at the Cotton Factory parking lot at at 270 Sherman Ave. N.

While the production is not about the Cotton Factory per se, several pianos that were left behind by previous tenants are being incorporated into the plot of Fright Night, he says.   

As in previous Emerson shows, Micevski and Emily Bolyea are directing the latest Fright Night. The actors include Renata Ona (Bearded Lady), Katlyn Alcock (Ring Master), Grace Centritto (Fortune Teller), DJ Wright (Carnie) and Ayva Money (Clown) and Grace Macharia (Run-Away).

The second production, The Synch, is a parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. Billed as a more family-oriented and less chilling production, it will be staged on the second floor of the Cotton Factory. 

Micevski has added a lot of comedy and song to the script but he is maintaining the basic plot of the original Christmas classic. This show is running on Dec. 1, 2, 3, and 7, 8, 9.

Emerson has other productions lined up for 2024, all also written by Micevski.

A family drama centred around a wedding and secret relationships is slated for February. Micevski has already developed the script and is in discussions with the Cotton Factory about staging it there. 

Two other plays from Emerson are planned for 2024 but no locations have been announced yet.

Gotta Call Barb (March 2024) is called "a dramedy," by Emerson and it focuses on the day in the life of a single mother.

Best Friends: The Musical (June 2024) explores a friendship between two women over the course of their lives from ages 8 to 80. 

Micevski likes to install an edgy, scary, unpredictable and high-adrenalin momentum in the plot of all of his scripts.
All of his script writing is filtered through working partner Emily Bolyea. "I have had to tell Mason (sometimes). No, you have gone too far."