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Ghost Lights: A blend of practicality and superstition

Added June 7th, 2009

Today I spent most of the day doing the layout for Haunted
Theatres in SW Florida
and then I got inspired to write the introduction. I have uncovered 39 theaters. Some have so many ghosts that they could probably do their own productions!

As I’ve been exploring theaters, I’ve discovered a wide variety of ghost
—typically a single light left to illuminate the stage when the theater is not in use. Seeing all the different ghost lights is becoming nearly as much
fun as learning new ghost stories. The one at Venice
is pretty basic—sort of an old floor lamp
minus a shade. The one at Sarasota Opera
possibly began life the same
way but now it has a Sesame Street creature hugging it and, fastened to
the stage manager’s outpost backstage I found something that looks a lot
like dear old St. Christopher, the now-retired traveler’s saint.

As I continue to check out theaters, I am going to start asking to see the
ghost lights. When there is a show going on, or even a rehearsal, the ghost lights are usually backstage taking a break from their late night duties as protectors of their various stages. Supposedly the first ghost lights were used to deter the ghosts of past plays from reappearing although the most important reason for a ghost light is really safety. Even when the sun is shining, theaters can be dark places and finding the light switch can be a challenge. A ghost light can be very helpful—sort of like an electrical Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Should anyone out there in the blogosphere have a photo of a ghost light in
a SW Florida theater, I would love to see it and could possibly work it into the book. Feel free to tell us about your theater’s ghost light in the comments below.

Topics: Blog, Ghost Hunting

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