"Typically, if people know séances, they think of a magic show or spook show. They think of kind of a theatrical setting," says Albert Lucio, describing what Austin Séance is not. "We wanted to recreate an authentic séance."
Austin Séance is not a stage show or a theater piece. It's part history lesson and part exploration -- Lucio and co-creator Jake Cordero are re-creating Victorian-era séances as accurately as possible, complete with props and artifacts from the long history of traditional séances.
"The sitting begins with a history, because we want to give context to what we're doing," says Lucio. "So we have ouija boards, talking boards... we have different types of spirit bells, spirit lamps. Just a whole bunch of items that we present and explain where they came from as people were trying to contact those who have moved on."
Since it's not really a show, there's not really an audience, either. There will be people in attendance, of course, but Cordero and Lucio refer to them as sitters, not audience members.
"In a very real sense, because we encourage people to sort of bring in their own experiences, talk about their own experiences... in that sense they become the presentation," says Cordero. "We can sort of set the stage, as it were, [then] we often leave it to the sitters themselves to provide us their own interpretation, their own meaning."
"All the sittings are different," Cordero says. "We don't tell people what to believe. If you're a skeptic, that's fine. If you're not a skeptic, that's fine. All we're sort of selling is an experience."
Since Austin Séance is not a scripted show but a communal experience, Lucio and Cordero never really know what's going to happen, and sometimes what happens is not much at all. "Sometimes we sit in the dark and we wait for signs to come to us," says Lucio, adding with a laugh, "and sometimes they come and sometimes we just sit in the dark."
"There is an element to séances which sort of involves ritual, but there's also an element which sort of involves play," says Cordero. "And so we hope that when people come to our demonstrations, that they come with that spirit."
"It's not a theater in that there's a narrative, there's a plot, there's stories, there's dialogue, it's not even like a magic show where there's tricks or anything going on," says Lucio. "It's really just a space that's set aside for us to explore some of out beliefs in the supernatural."