2 3 Saturday Ghost Light Superstition | Ballet Webb

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Ghost Light Superstition

Saturday Ghost Light Superstition

After everyone, including the cast and crew leave the theater, all the lights in the building are turned off except one. This is the single “ghost light” left burning onstage.

When did this practice start? In the book Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Beginnings , author James Fisher states that the ghost light “comes from the days of gas-lit theatres and refers to dimly lit gaslights used to relieve pressure on gas valves”. There is another story that says that a burglar broke into a darkened theater, fell down and broke his leg, and sued the theater. Thus there is a practical reason for the light. In a pitch-black theater, if the orchestra pit is down and someone wanders in – well, you can imagine the consequences. Therefore the ghost light serves a purpose: preventing a tragic accident, not to mention avoiding the possibility of a lawsuit.

But the most fascinating and pervasive legend is that this light is left on for the ghost or ghosts that haunt the theater. And all theaters have their resident ghosts, right? Ghosts of departed actors, musicians, technical workers, dancers – you name it. Depending on who tells it, the light either allows the ghosts to play in the theater when everyone else is gone, or keeps them away all together.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Superstition #108:
“The ghost light is a single light left burning onstage after everyone has left the theater.”

Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.”
Stephen King, Bag of Bones

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