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Service-Learning Class Creates Haunted House

Service-Learning Class Creates Haunted House

Posted: October 26, 2012

Halloween starts early on 18th Street with a haunted house for neighborhood children on Monday, October 29. The haunted house is a collaboration involving Making Fishers of Men and Women, a neighborhood organization; Buffalo State students under the guidance of Paul Gabriellini, a senior majoring in theater; and a service-learning class taught by Ann Emo, assistant professor of theater.

"Making Fishers has been putting on a haunted house for several years," said Gabriellini, who has taken part in seven Buffalo State productions. "Last year, our theme was a Haunted House party, with the visitors as guests. This year, the theme is 'Test Your Fears.'"

Buffalo State students will act out the part of scary tour guides leading children through the haunted house. "We wanted to make it interactive," said Gabriellini. "Wherever the kids go, they have to climb or move through something. We want to make it suspenseful."

Gabriellini’s talent at haunted-house making comes from his theater experience at Buffalo State and from experience with a friend in his hometown of Mastic, New York. "I went from performing to salesman to stage manager to coordinator," said Gabriellini.

"The haunted house is a theatrical event, just a different medium," he said. "It’s like designing a stage and performing a role. Afterward, we’ll have a talkback with the kids who come at the Making Fishers Center on 18th Street. To the kids, the actors are like celebrities."

Students from Emo’s service-learning class, Stage Makeup, will use their new skills to put make-up on the actors. "My students will meet some of the neighborhood kids at Making Fishers," said Emo. "Then they will take part in the event, and evaluate it."

"The idea behind Making Fishers is to teach children to provide for themselves," said Gabriellini. Three days a week, he works with students from the neighborhood in an after-school program. "We help them with their homework," he said, "and then we do improvisational theater with them." Gabriellini has been working as a peer leader at Making Fishers since 2011 through Buffalo State’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center.

"I’m a strong believer that grammar school should be more physical, more creative," he said. "The arts are majorly important, but they are always the first things to get cut in schools." Gabriellini believes that theater helps young people develop their communication skills.

Even though he has played many roles, it’s safe to say that Gabriellini’s role as peer leader with Making Fishers is the most important role he's played in his life so far. "It's so satisfying to host an event that get kids off the street, so they can learn they have plenty of resources to draw on."

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