Zombie School Diary

Exposed visits Zombie School ahead of zombie survival game, 2.8 Hours Later, hitting Sheffield from September 12th.

You might have heard of 2.8 Hours Later – the idea is to create a realistic zombie survival game across urban spaces, and it's the closest thing you'll get to experiencing a real-life zombie invasion, for the time-being anyway. This horror-themed experience has been around since 2011 with various storylines encouraging players to come back for repeat plays, but this will be the first time the outbreak has spread to Sheffield and I was lucky (right word?) enough to be invited to take part as a zombie. The actual game will be taking place on September 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th, but first I had to pass 'Zombie School' – see how I got on below…

August 30th, 2pm

After traipsing round the back streets of West Bar we manage to locate 'Zombie School' – it's in a non-descript industrial space, but inside makes for a classroom that looks like something from a movie set. We sign in and receive a contract to read while we eye up our fellow zombie classmates.


After getting the admin out of the way, the production assistant introduces herself and begins a presentation featuring clips from Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later to show what kind of zombies we're expected to transform into.  In the game there'll be two types of zombies with different roles and personalities, but we're told it's best if we add our own personal spin to the role.


Next we get a glimpse of the sounds and movements we should be aiming for from a professional zombie actor called Alex, and he takes over as our instructor for most of the rest of the day. This guy's orange overalls and make-up give us a taster of how we'll be looking on the night of the game as well. 


All this sitting down was starting to take me back to school days, so it was a relief when we all headed outside to the nearest park – time to get physical! Just like any good P.E. lesson we started off by warming up the muscles, and then we moved onto warming up our vocals chords by grabbing our partner and screaming in their face! 


OK, now we're getting down to business – it's time to learn how to sound like a zombie, and it's actually quite difficult to do convincingly. There are a few different vocal techniques, and we're told to practise and combine them all – perhaps most important will be the low wail (from the belly), which when performed by a big horde of zombies will apparently echo around the streets and strike fear into the players.


Next is learning to walk like a zombie using four different methods: skyhook, knocking knees, stiff leg and drunken zombie. We're told to adopt a distant, emotionless stare while we do this, which seems to come worryingly naturally to me. And by this point, locals and passers-by are starting to wonder what this strange group of people are doing in the park on a Saturday afternoon, but we're too in-character to let it affect us!


Now it's time to combine the sounds and the walk and practise transitioning into a sprint, which we'll then use to chase down any player we set our sights on. We're also being watched for acting talent as well as spatial awareness so that we can be assigned suitable roles on the night.


And like any good P.E. lesson we finish with some games so we can put our skills into practice. There's the eerie 'blood potato' game, and then a simulation of the kind of thing we'll be doing on the night. Finally, after an action-packed and physically exhausting lesson we head back to the classroom.


We're all glad to find out we've passed zombie school, and after choosing the nights we'll be playing on it's home time, although I got to stay behind and get my make-up done, so here's an idea of what I'll look like on the night – look out for me!


Photo Credit: Red Rhino Photography

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