Autumn Afternoon of the Living Dead
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Autumn Afternoon of the Living Dead

Improv in Toronto stages a zombie attack on the University of Toronto campus.

Shawn Green, one of many zombiefied participants in Dare to Fight: Zombies Attack.

On an idyllic fall afternoon, on the University of Toronto campus, bloodcurdling screams echoed in the air. In the elegantly arched doorway of Hart House, a zombie bent over a struggling young man, who screamed for assistance. Strips of decaying flesh hung from the zombie’s face. Eventually, the screams turned into moans as the former victim shuffled to his feet, transformed into a member of the undead legions.

While the scene could have been the opening moments of a locally filmed horror flick, it was actually part of something more unusual. Zombies Attack was the latest stunt pulled off by Improv in Toronto, a group that stages interactive performance pieces in locations throughout the city. The event, which took place on Saturday, was part of the group’s successful Dare to Fight series, where members of the unsuspecting public are asked to grab a (safe, padded) weapon and fight off fictional baddies. (Last time, it was ninjas.)

Alison Camilleri, another Zombies Attack participant.

First, the zombie crowd gathered in Queen’s Park to share fake-blood supplies and strategize. Next, participants picked a high-traffic location on campus. Most of the zombies hid. A huge bag of weapons—including Nerf guns and foam swords—was set out for passersby to use. Then, one zombie began to attack an “innocent bystander” who was actually an actor, in on the joke. A crowd of civilians gathered. Once one of the onlookers decided to grab a weapon and try to fight off the single zombie, the rest swarmed out from their hiding places and joined in the attack.

The weapons cache.

Ultimately, the undead were defeated by the foam-wielding warriors. Or were they? After they had been vanquished, the zombies hid again and waited for another passerby to take up the padded sword.

The zombie horde is defeated.

Improv in Toronto frequently stages events throughout the city, such as the now-famous No Pants Subway Ride. If forgetting your knickers or dressing up like a zombie sounds like fun to you, they’re always looking for new participants to join in their shenanigans.

Photos by Natalie Zina Walschots/Torontoist.