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Playwright's experience on haunted history tour inspires People's Choice play

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On Saturday night, Char Loomis won her second consecutive Audience Choice Award in the Lab Theater's 24-Hour Playwriting Challenge. Her one act play, Coming Together, featured a young man who returned from taking a haunted history tour in New Orleans with the ghost of a young girl attached to him.

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How could this happen? Well, it seems that young Damien foolishly ignored the warnings of his guide and left the tour before the portal through which the ghosts pass could be closed back up again. "People were seeing orbs. It was just too weird, so I left the tour. This ghost attached to me and now I'm stuck with it," Damien laments to his love interest, who fears that her erstwhile boyfriend has slipped a cog. She become convinced of it moments later when Damien tells her that he's returned to town to kill the down-on-her-luck old woman who lives in the abandoned restaurant where the play takes place. "I have to do it," Damien wails half-crazed. "It's the only way I can be free of the ghost."

Well, of course, the bereft and bedraggled woman was the young child's mother. "We were taking a ride on a paddleboat," she tells Damien and his girl. "I just turned my head for a moment. When I turned around, she was gone. The found her body floating in the river two days later." Murdering her is the only way that Damien can reunite mother and child.

"I got the idea for Coming Together from a haunted history tour I took in New Orleans," Loomis said on Saturday night. Although many cities (including London, Manhattan, Savannah, Gettysburg and St. Augustine) offer haunted history tours, post-Katrina New Orleans is reputed by the History, Discovery and Travel channels to be the most haunted city in America. With its colorful history and fair share of outlandish personalities, it is small wonder so many New Orleans homes and taverns have been investigated by paranormal investigators, but Loomis did not encounter any ghosts or orbs on the tour she took. Still, the stories made an impression and surfaced on Saturday night during the Lab Theater's Second Annual 24-Hour Playwriting Challenge.

Loomis has a Masters in Communication Arts from Maryland University, where she also concentrated on script writing. Char has been writing as a hobby for several years, but with two Audience Choice Awards in a row, the theater community may be seeing a lot more of her in the years ahead.

"I've heard about it and am dying to take it," answered Char when asked if she'd been on True Tours' haunted history tour of downtown Fort Myers. Let's hope that's just a figure of speech.

The Laboratory Theater of Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which is dedicated to the promotion of the performing arts, through live performance, education, community outreach, experimentation and the development of ensemble work. The company features ensemble productions, produces classic works, takes artistic risks and features and challenges local performers of various skill levels. Stay up to date with its news and events on Facebook and Twitter @LabTheaterFL. For more information, please call 239-218-0481. The theater is located at 1634 Woodford Ave. Fort Myers, 33901.


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