WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
SCT unofficially started in the 1980s, when multimedia artist and film teacher Jonathan Chappell, as a young boy, made a scarecrow that local police mistook as a real missing woman.
Inspired, Chappell continued making “monsters” as simple, handmade Halloween-themed lawn decorations displayed on Chappell Drive, in Gill, MA, that charmed and impressed his neighbors.
As the years passed, experience grew. Sticks, hay, bailing twine and paper mache were replaced by PVC, epoxy, resin, latex, and silicone. The display grew from a couple of figures to extensive scenes, earning the approval of many passersby, including Spooky God Tim Burton himself. From these displays came the first-ever Skeleton Crew Theater production, which Chappell performed entirely by himself to a small audience of close friends.
Since then, with the support of the Gill and Turners Falls community, the effort of TFHS students, and the willpower of Chappell himself, Skeleton Crew Theater has blossomed from a seasonal hobby into a one-of-a-kind theater group specializing in adaptable, immersive outdoor performances with larger-than-life creatures. Venues have included for colleges, fundraisers for high schools, public/private events, festivals, local organizations, films and Boston Arts Week.
SCT has employed over one hundred Turners Falls High School students in the past 11 years, allowing them to access and experience a unique form of project-based learning and art.
In November 2017, a barn containing several SCT characters and sets caught fire. The damage was substantial, but a successful crowdfunding effort raised enough funds to help replace the loss and help SCT come back stronger than ever.