Written by Colin Rudd & Grace Flavien
The Arnold Hall auditorium has its share of dramatic performances and edifying lectures. However, from February 3 through the 6, the stage will melt away and guests will experience an event like no other. Since the beginning of fall quarter, SCAD’s Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) chapter has been working on an interactive attraction dubbed “Project Aedes.”
Guests will step onto the stage and will be transported to an eerie, abandoned government lab that once conducted research on mosquitoes. During the event, guests will follow in the footsteps of a conspiracy theorist, who has reason to believe that the lab was a government cover up for alien research. Through the unique and resourceful collaboration between many programs at SCAD including Production Design, Visual Effects, Sound Design, Animation and Dramatic Writing, guests will get the opportunity to uncover the truth in this fully interactive experience.
As of last summer, SCAD is the only design school with a major in Themed Entertainment Design. The Themed Entertainment industry includes a wide variety of applications ranging from museums to amusement parks. As a result, the TEA became a creative, collaborative club as well as an excellent support system for other Themed Entertainment designers.
Jess Gaffin, Secretary of the SCAD TEA, explained, “The purpose of the TEA Club is to introduce others to this concept because, a lot of people, when they come to SCAD, they don’t even know that this industry exists.”
The TEA always wanted to make something real, something immersive and believable, but they never had the opportunity to bring a concept to life, despite their countless attraction designs.
To get “Project Aedes” off the ground, the TEA acquired grants from SCAD and launched an Indiegogo campaign. Designer and TEA member Dan Brookwell said, “Once we had the club behind it, and also seeing that we’re actually raising a lot of money and that we have all this support towards us, I think SCAD really realized that this is a high priority project, and so I think that drove it.”
In the early stages of “Project Aedes,” the TEA faced challenges with funding and location. They considered multiple venues including areas off-campus, but they ended up using the basement of Crites before receiving the opportunity to move to the main stage in Arnold Hall.
“The original design was meant to fit in a classroom in Crites Hall,” Brookwell explained. Since moving to Arnold Hall, they had to expand certain areas, like the waiting queue. “Moments like those drove the story further because we were like, ‘So now we have this open space, what can we do with it,'” Brookwell said. “It got easier once [production] went along.”
With the help of the Crites Scene Shop and their faculty advisor, Professor Charlie Otte, the TEA built the set at Crites Hall. Since moving production to Arnold Hall, team members had to reconstruct the set like one giant puzzle. They admitted to spending over 9 hours a day on the attraction.
During this week, students from all majors will combine their efforts to see “Project Aedes” come to life. Students have been working together to develop animations, render cinematics, write scores, rig lighting and set dress to transform the Arnold Hall stage into an abandoned lab.
“A lot of people, especially like the sound team or animation team, they’ve never done anything like this before,” Brookwell said. “So it’s cool that other majors are starting to realize that theme parks and themed entertainment is doing exactly what they’re already doing.”
“No one’s ever done this before, especially at SCAD,” Brookwell continued. “We were either confronted with a problem or opportunity that we then made something out of it and that’s how this whole thing came together.”
To experience “Project Aedes” this weekend, ticket reservations can be made on their website. Tickets are free and the event is open to the public. To get involved with the SCAD TEA chapter, club meetings are Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Room 213 at Crites Hall.