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Brooklyn Hell
House features gay man dying of AIDS

Brooklyn Hell
House features gay man dying of AIDS

Devil

A Brooklyn warehouse is featuring a bit of experimental theater called Hell House, based on the haunted-house tours given by some evangelical churches to scare people away from sin.

On Halloween a waterfront warehouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., featured a striking bit of experimental theater called Hell House, based on the haunted-house tours given by some evangelical churches around the country to scare people away from sin.

While an earlier show in Los Angeles called Hollywood Hell House satirized the moralizing of the evangelical haunted houses, the New York version avoided irony in hopes that audiences will draw their own conclusions. The stories involved a cheerleader undergoing a painful, bloody abortion, two gay men wedding just before one dies of AIDS complications, and a ''nerdy'' girl being raped at a rave, then shooting herself in the head.

Each Halloween, hundreds of evangelical churches stage "hell house" performances in communities across the United States, a tradition started by notoriously antigay televangelist Jerry Falwell in the 1970s, according to the Bloomberg news service. The hipster theater group Les Freres Corbusier re-created a hell house that stuck to the script by a Colorado pastor who sells "Hell House Outreach'" kits to churches.

The production wasn't meant to mock the beliefs of fundamentalists, Alex Timbers, the 28-year-old director of Hell House and Les Freres Corbusier's artistic director, told Bloomberg. Although he called real hell houses "theater of hate,'' he said it's important for secular liberals to realize that fundamentalists feel their values are under assault. "The best way to understand is to present it as a nonjudgmental, sociological artifact,'' Timbers said. "People can draw their own conclusions.''

Real hell houses are designed to convert people to evangelical Christianity, but Hell House audiences in Brooklyn weren't expected to take the preaching to heart: At a preview performance, a fair number of souls in jeopardy laughed heartily at the sentiments expressed in the play. (AP contributed to this report)

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