From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joe Clark)
Subject: Theatre Ghosts
Date: 12 Jan 1995 23:04:26 GMT
After lurking on this group for a while, this is my first informational posting (as opposed to smartass followups). The following are some stories told about a Community Theatre Building in southeastern PA where I used to live. I was very active in the group for a year or so (“Dutch Country Players”, near Quakertown) & heard several people tell these with straight faces. Of course, they were actors….
The playhouse is located on a ridge in the Pennsy Dutch country, along a two-lane back road. Next door is a restaurant/bar, but in typical rural SE Pa fashion, there’s nothing but farmhouses, there’s no other commercial etablishment closer than the tavern at the next crossroads (how this old-country look survives right next to interstates and cablevision fascinates me). The drive up on a winter’s night, with moonlight flooding bare-tree shadows across the snow, is something that will always stick with me.
One night at a cast party some of the members started talking about “the ghost,” speaking matter-of-factly and without any of the big-eyed hypercredulity one might expect, though it was clear some of them were scared of it.
The playhouse is kind of an old barn in shape, maybe 75×150′; you come into the front lobby (“front of house”), with ticket booth and small kitchen. Above the lobby is a loft with an office and the light/sound booth. Beyond this is the two-story House proper, with removable seating. The stage is raised 3-4 feet and is full width except for narrow wings (restroms through a set of double-doors to one side of the house). Backstage is the green room, restrooms, set/prop strage, etc. with an upstairs costume storage area. Overall very typical theatre layout.
It seems the ghost had been rather more active than usual lately, and some cast members attributed this to the fact that we were performing Godspell (which includes a rather emotional reenactment of the crucifixion).
- One of the “techies” had been working lights late at night. From the light booth you can stand on a box and look through the space above the false ceiling in the house and see the area above the stage. The techie said he saw shapes moving around in there, like they were dancing. He left immediately and would not work late at night without company any more.
- Several persons reported seeing the backstairs light (from the costume loft to an outside exit) come on when everyone had clearly left the building. More than one person has reported feeling like someone was following them or looking at them while they were in the costume loft. It was not a pleasant feeling.
- Another person refused to be there alone anymore after the following: the house lights were out and he was heading past the wing curtains to go backstage (complete darkness). He felt as if someone brushed past him and there was a cold sensation in the air.
- Near the end of Godspell, the cast carries the “dead” Jesus offstage and (in our version) through the audience to the front of house area. One night as the cast turned to come back through the door for curtain calls, several reported that a presence pushed past them “as if in a real huff to get out”, as one put it. She insisted we had exorcised the presence by staging a religious drama. I say that’d be a new one, given the decidedly backslidin’ nature of the cast, myself included.
No one ever repeated a ghostly-origin story in my presence, so I’ve no clue who this ghost was supposed to be, though there’s plenty of ghost-fodder in the North Penn Valley. As the form of the tales closely matches those told elsewhere, it seemed a valid member of the genre. Hope it amused.