Contemporary Legend – Texas

The informant heard the following contemporary legend about the Garza Theater in Post, Texas when he “went down to see a show there and was talking with some people who [he] had worked with once before” at the cast party afterward:

The theatre is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Will McCrary, its founder, who died of AIDS. Supposedly he is sometimes seen there by those who didn’t know him when he was alive and is sometimes heard to whisper forgotten lines to desperate actors from the wings. The full story as the informant tells it is in the accompanying sound clip (2 parts): Garza Theater Part 1 Garza Theater Part 2

The informant “told [the legend] to three or four people right after [he] heard it,” all of them former theatre employees who “had gone on to other things.” He also likes to perform the legend when the conversation strays to ghost stories and “in a class situation once when [he] was discussing the tradition of theatres being haunted.”

The informant’s reaction to the legend is one of mixed disbelief and fascination: “I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know that I believe in ghosts at all, but I can’t prove there aren’t any, but I’ve never seen one, so I’m fairly nonplussed about it myself. If it were true, art of me would think it was sort of awesome that you could just hang out at a place that you cared about forever and ever and ever.” He also feels a little sorry for the ghost, if there is one: “Part of me also thinks that if there is something after you die, it would be sort of lame to be stuck in a theatre in a 2500-person town in the middle of Texas.” According to the informant, the legend of the haunting is now printed in the theatre’s programs for all of the patrons to read.

When the “high school students and volunteers” that the informant mentions told of their inexplicable experiences, those stories became memorates added to Will’s legend. The legend, if it is indeed now printed in the programs, has become folklorismus—the theatre uses it as a way to generate interest and make money.