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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Re: Ghost Light
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0090.  Thursday, 9 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Roger D. Gross <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Feb 1995 17:21:15 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Ghost Lights
 
(2)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Feb 95 15:31:26 EST
        Subj:   Superstitions (fwd)
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <
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Date:           Wednesday, 8 Feb 1995 17:21:15 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Ghost Lights
 
Jim Hamilton asks about ghost lights.  I've worked in about fifty theatres in
this country and never seen one without a ghost light nor heard the instrument
called by any other name.  Many cities have a ghost light requirement (not by
that name).  It's a matter of safety.  Too many of us have fallen in orchestra
pits or walked through scenic walls while fumbling for the light switches.  So,
after turning out all of the stage lights and work lights, the last thing a
stage manager does before locking up is roll out the ghost light on its
pedestal (most of us still use this primitive version) and screw the bulb in.
 
We are about evenly split between those of us who want to believe that the
light is there to:
 
        - protect us from the ghost which every theatre houses
        - keep the ghost company during the long, lonely nights
        - keep the ghost at bay so he doesn't get us when we come in
 
It seems that we began having ghost lights somewhere around 1875.  I can't
learn if there was such a thing before electricity.
 
There are much more convenient ways to safely light the theatre when its out of
use but most of us cling to the tradition of that awkward little three-wheeled
trolley with the bare light bulb and no switch.
 
I've never heard any kind of "story" connected with the ghost light; no
allusion in the name.
 
Roger Gross
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Wednesday, 08 Feb 95 15:31:26 EST
Subject:        Superstitions (fwd)
 
Re: the various superstitions.  My husband was amused by an earlier message and
sent this information along.  Fran Teague
 
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
From:           Ben Teague <
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Our community theater uses a ghost light.  It's an unshaded floor lamp that is
left on whenever the theater is (otherwise) dark.  This is absolutely a matter
of superstition.  We consider it bad luck to fall on an invisible step or trip
over an invisible brace and break our ankle.
 
I have personally been responsible for chasing two miscreants out of the
theater ("Don't say that name!"  "What, Macbeth?") and making them go through
the curse-lifting ritual before readmitting them.  But now we have the problem
that one of our best tech people has "Macbeth" for his middle name.  After an
afternoon's pilpul we concluded that it's all right to say "Macbeth" in the
theater _provided_ we are referring to Mike (a loud minority wanted to expel
him altogether).
 

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