The Ghost Light

Informant: A big theatre thing is the ghost light. So, typically, every theatre I’ve ever been to has some sort of ghost, that all the techs and actors swear exists in said space. So before we leave the theatre for the night, we always put a ghost light, which is literally just a light on a stick, in the middle of the stage. And realistically, it’s there because if you don’t put it there, someone will fall off the end of the stage and that will lead to a lawsuit. But! The legend behind the ghost light is that it helps to appease the ghost of said theatre, keep them friendly, guide their way. That, or alternatively, it wards off evil ghosts in said theatre. 

My informant is a 20-year-old college student, majoring in theatre, who recently returned from a study-abroad semester in London, England. She’s been doing theatre for twelve years now in various parts of the country, so she’s heard many versions of theatre legends, tales, superstitions, and other pieces of theatre folklore.

I thought this was very interesting, because I’ve done theatre with this informant for six years, at the same theatre, and we’ve heard very different stories on how the ghost light originated. What I was told was that you put the ghost light out at night so you had a beacon in the dark theatre, so anyone who ventures into the theatre after hours wouldn’t be afraid and there would be less places for ghosts to hide. My informants version works just as well, and we’re both in agreement that the practical reason for it, and probably the reason it’s stuck around so long, is to keep people safe in the dark. It just happens to have a name with a legend behind it.