Allegra: I think this might be pretty common folklore, but every theater has a ghost. Sometimes, in particularly old theaters, a ghost can cause disruptions if not appeased.
Me: Have you ever experienced a theater ghost?
Allegra: Yes. Many times. Our high school theatre had a ghost who would take the bra from a quick change pile and move it to the opposite side of backstage. Well, perhaps that wasn’t a ghost. Probably just a bad techie. Anyway, yes the ghost light is kept on in empty theaters (theaters which are not in rehearsal or performance) to appease the ghost, and I suppose for safety reasons as well. People do not want to be fumbling around in a dark theatre when they enter.
Me: What do they look like?
Allegra: Well it’s a lightbulb on top of a metal stand, and there is usually a cage around the light. Whoever leaves the theatre last is supposed to plug it in so that the next person can see.
Analysis: A ghost light goes along with many superstitions in theatre. (Never say Macbeth, a bad final dress rehearsal means a good opening night and vice versa) The ghost light superstition seems ridiculous but it is a serious practice among Thespians. As artists, actors are prone to letting the supernatural have more sway. Perhaps this is because their imaginations are more active than dryer fields of work, or because their work is so subjective and a bad show can be the result of events outside of their control. In either case, a ghost light is one of many theatre superstitions well alive today.