Agnes and David (or maybe Phil)
As I went around declaring in delight that one of my class assignments was actually listening to and recording real life ghost stories, my friend and suitemate Jessica quickly informed me that she had a ghost story from her high school (a private Catholic school) that she would love to tell. Her story involves the ghost that resided in her high school theater. This is a story that she says has been passed down from drama teacher to drama teacher and student to student for years. Every year the drama students have a retreat and the older students even put on a reenactment of the origin of their theater’s ghost. The following is her rendition of the ghost story as was told to her which was relayed to me one evening in our suite as she sat at her desk and I munched away on the popcorn that served as my dinner that evening.
“We never actually had like a real theater until these past two years, they used like the cafeteria and would set up risers and stuff, and the lights were like, they were set high into the ceiling because we did not have like a professional cat walk or anything in that space because you know it was not actually supposed to be a theater. And so ‘legend has it’ that sometime in the seventies right after Chaminade [her high school] was converted form and all boys school to a coed school that they were doing a show and there was girl named Agnes and she was head of the lights crew and she was hanging the lights for a show one night because it was close to the show time and it was tech week and she had stayed later than everybody because she was finishing off her light plots and she decided that, ‘hey I’m here already, I might as well start hanging the lights, and so when she got up there she realized that there was on that was out of place- or there were two that were out of place- so she got the first fixed fine because it was like right where her ladder was set up, but then she moved on to the second one, but it was slightly out of her reach, but she was like ‘it’s late, I want to do this as quickly as possible’ so she didn’t take the time to move the ladder, so reached too far and she fell and she died. And so everyone says that they can hear her and feel her in well where our old theater is, but we kind of also feel that she followed us to where our new theater is because when we were rehearsing “Fiddler on the Roof” my two friends and I and it was tech week, and this was before we were required, like we, we used to be able to stay basically till like three, four in the morning but now we have to leave by ten at night, but this was before those rules set in, so it was like, it was about one thirty in the morning and I needed, and I was, yeah I was head of costumes crew, and I need the sowing machine, but I had left it in the old theater, because we, that was the year, that was the semester actually that we were transitioning out of the building, and so I had forgotten, that was one of the things I had forgotten, and so I needed the sowing machine to do some hemming, and so I was like ‘I don’t like going there by myself at night, and so I’m going to get some people to come with me, and so I took a few of my friends and so we walked over and like we unlocked the door and for like some reason the lights to the building were in the back of the building, like away from the front door, so when you go through the front door you have to like go through the darkness of the building to get to the back of the building to turn the lights on, and so my friend Zach went back there to turn the lights on, and so we turned the lights on and I got my sowing machine, and so I’m standing by the front door waiting for Zach to come back from turning the lights off, and so he turns off the lights and we’re standing their like, ‘come on’ like ‘hurry up, it’s like super creepy’ and I’m like ‘haha wouldn’t it be like so funny if we like called Agnes over to the new theater, like wouldn’t that be just hilarious’ and so my friends and I, we started like teasing her and we were like, ‘come on Agnes, like you can follow us like it’s okay’ and I have two friends who are named Zach and so the other Zach was like ‘here Agnes let me clap for you and you can follow me’ so my friend runs out of the building clapping, and my other friend follows him, and I’m still waiting for Zach to come back, and so he finally comes to the door, and so we start to shut the door, and like we have the door open and we are standing there and like ‘okay time to leave’ and all of a sudden we heard like a like a scream or like a moan and we’re like ‘holy shit’ and we like shut the doors and ran and like ever since then people will say that like they see things in our new theater, like someone was setting up for a dance show and she was walking past the ghost light (a single electric light that is left on stage, often in the form of a bright light bulb, and is left on when the other lights are turned off for safety purposes) and she saw like two shadows instead of just hers, and people will saw that they like stand on the stage and if its dark, and theirs like only the ghost light on, and they say that if your standing on the stage and you’re like looking up at the light box, like you can see someone standing there, or people will say that they see her in the cat walks, and my director frequently says that like she hears whispering like from the rafters, it’s very creepy.”
I then asked if there was any other typical Agnes behavior, and her response was as follows:
“She generally just like preys on people who are alone, and people who are alone like late at night working, and yeah they hear things or like see things, and we had this one set designer, and she used to stay way later than everyone else because she was not technically employed by the school so they could not say anything, and so she would stay late but she used to say that she would get like so anxious and like creeped out for like no reason that she would have to go outside and smoke a cigarette in order for her to calm down, so she would be able to come back inside and resume her work, but yeah she makes noises all the time and people think they see her and it’s not just like the drama department, like its everyone. But then there’s like other behavior that’s not typical of Agnes so we say that it’s like, that we think it’s someone else. Like lights flickering, or water staring to run, or like I was there one night and we were closing up and there was a buzz saw in the scene shop that started going off, and that needs to be like plugged in and manually turned on to turn on. It was plugged in but in needed to be like a switch needs to be flipped for that to happen. And it was really weird. I was standing there with like three other people talking to my director and all the sudden it starts going off and we are like ‘what?’ And she usually doesn’t do that she usually just like makes noises or like appears. So things happening like that, is like not typical of her so we feel that there is like someone else maybe…”
I followed up by asking who they attribute those strange occurrences to.
“Um well we have like two thoughts, like initially we nicknamed him Phil because he like fills in for Agnes, but then when we got into the new building we actually found out that there was like a guy who donated half of the money for the building but her died like before the building was completed and his name was David, and he was in like the very first production that the school ever held, in like the fifties, and like they have a picture of it of the show cast and he’s in it when we was like a teenager and that picture is hanging in our blackbox theater, and so we think it might be him. Like my director will be sitting in her office which is like attached to the blackbox and the blackbox is a cinderblock room, you can’t hear anything outside of that room, like you can’t hear what is going on outside of that room. And she will be sitting in her office and she will hear like whistling and she will hear like kids at play or something and she will be like ‘what? Are there people outside the classroom like playing around,’ and she will go out and like nobody is there. And it’s just weird”
I followed this story by asking her thoughts on the ghosts. She believes that because things have actually happened to her, she believes it’s real. However, she also admits to believing in ghosts in general. She also stated that adults too, as well as students have experienced things, so this furthers her belief in the ghost. While the school itself never states that there was a death that occurred, Agnes is said to have existed by the teachers in the drama department, and it is a story that has been passed down through the department for many years.
My thought on the story and the ghost are uncertain. I am someone who would say I believe in the possibility of ghosts. I am not sure if Agnes was a real student at the school, and I would be interested in digging deeper into the story’s history; however I admit that I believe in the possibility that it is true. The existence of the other ghost I find more questionable, however if the Chaminade theater department has been lucky enough to acquire two ghosts, I believe that the ‘David’ theory, holds more ground than that of ‘Phil,’ as adorable as the irony of his name might be. No matter what the truth is, it is obvious that these ghosts hold a special place in the drama department of that school. The stories of these ghosts both connect the drama students and help define who they are. Even graduates of the school can connect with those that following in their footsteps by referencing this Agnes. It is a story that will likely continue to affect these students for years to come.