By Julia Train
Andrew Silver, an entertainment artist and magician, sat at a table, center stage, placing alphabet blocks in a pyramid formation and telling a spooky story. The only light in the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) Theater was the spotlight on him.
“Silver is the assistant to [Peter Boie], the guy who normally performs this for us,” Heather Batezel, a junior arts and entertainment industries management major, said. “… He couldn’t make it this year, but we wanted to do it for Halloween.”
According to his website, Boie, “a magician for non-believers” travels from college to college putting on shows. He started working with the Student Entertainment Council (SEC) during COVID-19, said Batezel.
In between each segment, a video played, telling a story about haunted places around the country. Silver then proceeded to perform magic tricks that related to them, and asked for volunteers throughout the show. Attendees excitedly raised their hands to come up on stage.
One trick featured five paper bags with a wooden block, a nail-width hole in the center of each where a spike could be placed. Only one bag contained the spike.
Silver called a volunteer up to the stage for help. The volunteer, Matt Pozzuolo a Rider alumnus who graduated in 2022, mixed the bags up so no one knew which contained the spike, and remained still, holding a bell. The idea of the game was to communicate with a spirit that tells Silver if he was going to hit the spike by ringing the bell before he smashed a bag down. Silver compared this game to Russian roulette.
He asked audience members to tell him which bag to hit next. With each one, gasps filled the room as his hand met the bag.
Each trick called on a different ghost. One trick incorporated the ghost of the BLC Theater, which Silver called up five students to help him with. Each student was given a candle and wrote a name on a card. Four students wrote the name of someone alive, and one wrote the name of someone dead.
The cards were taken by Silver, mixed up, then returned to the students. The spotlight turned off and the theater was pitch black, with only the light of the candles on stage.
Silver then asked the ghost to reveal who held the card with the name of the dead person, and that person’s candle went out. The student that wrote the name revealed she wrote “Robin” on the card, for Robin Williams.
Silver then asked if any of those five students had CPR experience, when the same student said she did. He then revealed to the audience that he can control his breathing and stop his heartbeat to communicate with spirits on “the other side.”
Silver needed someone with CPR experience to be able to easily find his pulse and “just in case.”
The two sat across from each other at the table on stage, where Silver asked her to find his pulse and mimic his heartbeat on a microphone so the audience could be a part of the experience as well. He asked her to write a question about the future that she wanted to be answered. Silver then placed the piece of paper in his jacket pocket, closed his eyes and stopped his heart through controlled breathing within a few moments.
The audience gasped, and the woman on the stage was visibly shocked.
Moments later, his heart began beating again and he opened his eyes. He said he “talked to the spirit” and got her answer.
Silver claimed that he saw the ghost and gave it the paper, without seeing it. Silver then said that the spirit took out a lighter and lit the paper on fire. The spirit inhaled the smoke then told him, “It’ll never get better,” Silver said.
He took the paper out of his pocket and gave it to her, revealing that it was burnt and the question she asked was “Will Twilight get better?” After the audience laughed, she revealed “Twilight” was her cat and the audience awed in unison.
Before the final trick, a video was played describing a lady, named Emily, who hung herself on a bridge. Silver brought an Ouija board to the site and attempted to communicate with the ghost. The planchet flew off the board and he was spooked. The video then cut to him ending it, with a scratch on his face.
Silver asked the audience for someone with a smartphone with “at least 20% battery.” He ultimately picked Corinne Rosso, a senior marketing major. Silver used her phone to record three questions he had for “the ghost.” He then played it back into the microphone and members of the audience yelled out what they heard.
Silver asked if there was a ghost present and to give a sign. In the audio playback, some said they just heard a lady crying, while others heard her laughing.
Silver then asked the ghost what their name was. “Emily” is what the audience decided they heard. He then asked his final question, “what can we do for you?” No coherent answer was made out. Then, in a matter of seconds, the Ouija board that Silvers brought flew off the table, Rosso screamed, the lights flickered and the projector screen flashed. Rosso said she saw the board shifting before she screamed and then turned around and heard it fall.
“There’s definitely some deciphering to be done,” said Rosso. “We’re gonna go to church and splash a little bit of holy water just in case.”