As we come down off of our theater high after a week of Tony nominees, it seems like a good idea to slowly work our way back into the harsh light of the usual day-to-day. I thought I’d ease the transition with one of my favorite theater traditions/superstitions/necessities — the ghost light.
For those not familiar with the ghost light, it’s a single light usually placed at center stage between shows. Basically, if the theater is dark then the ghost light is lit.
Like most things in the theater, it has a basis in practicality. It turns out that a windowless room can get darker than the Mines of Moria without Gandalf when you turn the lights off. (If you got and appreciated that reference, congrats on being awesome…and we’re now best friends.)
Anyways, the Actors’ Equity insisted that a light be left on so that you know people could see (needy much?). It was actually originally known as an equity light, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Plus it doesn’t involve ghosts.
Since then the superstitious lot that is theater people have added their own stories to the single bulb. Some say the light is meant to keep ghosts away, while others say it’s there to provide spirits with light to perform by on dark days.
Wherever you land on the whole ghosts versus practical purposes line, I approve of the lights never going out on a stage. Perhaps I’m over-romanticizing it, but I love the idea that between stories and performances a single light keeps the space alive. (But theater ghosts are very real…just for the record)
Hopefully, this post has served its purpose and acted as a ghost light of sorts. Allowing your eyes some time to adjust while keeping the story alive and the ghosts at bay.
…just for fun:
For those of you who were in the dark (metaphorically speaking) for the “bathroom song” last night, here’s the greatest song about an anxiety attack in a restroom that that you’ll ever hear…
Also, here’s the best reimagining of said song (sorry Mr. Corden)…