A ghost light is an electric bulb left glowing, typically on stage, when a theatre is unoccupied and in the dark. The light has traditionally been an exposed incandescent bulb however more recently would be an LED lamp mounted on a portable stand in the centre of the stage. The practical advantages for ghost lights have been to ensure the safety of the last people out and the first to arrive, ensuring no one nose dives into an orchestra pit.
However the more superstitious folk have often argued that the origin and function of ghost lights have a more other worldly purpose. A popular theatrical belief is that every theatre has a supernatural presence. Throughout history there have been numerous accounts of ghostly encounters plaguing theatre staff and the ghost lights more ominous purpose is to appease any benevolent forces and prevent them from sabotaging the set or production.
With a global pandemic ushering the longest winter in theatrical history, one would think this timely tradition may have swung by the wayside. However some have said that the tradition now acts as a beacon of hope, almost an acknowledgement that whilst we may be gone, you can bet that we will be back.
The New York Times has reported that incidences of paranormal activity have increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Can these paranormal stories be caused by mounting COVID-19 stress or just the nerves of the highly strung? Or could theatrical superstition be the explanation behind these reports…
Have you ever experienced any unexplained sights or sounds during your time in a theatre?