College Culture Story

There are many traditions in the theatre that non-theatre people don’t understand. One of these is the use of a ghost light.

The purpose of the light is to give the spirits that haunt your theatre a space to perform when the theatre is empty. It is said to prevent the ghosts from cursing your theatre or your productions.

Though every theatre takes part in this tradition, not many believe in the reasoning behind the light. However, Morningside theatre majors know how important it is because many of them have had supernatural experiences in Klinger-Neal Theatre.

Klinger-Neal is said to have a number of ghosts that reside there. There are three that are the major players in the stories that majors are told when they enter the department. One ghost haunts the basement, one the stage, and another the booth.

Many buildings on Morningside’s campus are said to be haunted. More theatre students report having paranormal experiences because of how much time they spend in the theatre. Students involved in theatre can be in the theatre for multiple hours in the day and can stay there as late as one or two in the morning.

There are many stories that are passed on from older theatre majors to freshmen such as the story of Dallas’ chair. This story goes that if you move the chair in the back corner of the basement you will be tripped as you try to go back upstairs.

Many students and faculty, though have their own stories of weird and unusual things that have happened to them in the theatre.

Some days the aura in the theatre is so malicious that Professor Taylor Clemens has to instigate a rule that no one is allowed in the basement alone because “theatre ghosts be scary.” One story he told his students when he put that rule in place was that he felt such an oppressive force surrounding him in the basement that he had to yell at it to back off.

Amy Jackson, a senior Theatre and English double major, has recently had unexplained experiences while having rehearsal for the upcoming play.

“There were only three people in the theatre that night and the atmosphere just felt…wrong. Like, it was dead silent even when the actors were performing. So then, at our second to last run of the scene I heard voices from the direction of the stairs [to the basement] that sounded like little girls. I wanted to put it off as people outside but we have never been able to hear people outside any other time I have been at a rehearsal in the theatre. It freaked me out. So I let rehearsal out a little early that night and I left.”

This experience is thought to be linked to the moving of a monkey puppet from the basement. One student decided to play a joke on Professor Taylor Clemens and put the puppet next to the back door of the theatre. The next day Professor Clemens found the doll sitting in a chair in his locked office. Then, the next day, the same puppet was found in a chair in the locked costume shop.

The puppet moved a couple more times throughout the day (though these later movements were done by students) before disappearing. The puppet has not been seen since.

Last year junior Grant Turner experienced some paranormal activity when he was in the theatre after hours.

He was an acting partner for scenes presented at KCACTF and he was doing a last minute rehearsal after dark in the theatre. His scene partner, who is a big believe in the paranormal, was transfixed on a piece of paper that was moving on it’s own on the port-a-desk. The two went over to investigate.

“We checked for a draft or anything that could be moving the paper but nothing was happening. So we decided to investigate other things in the theatre.”

They then turned off the lights and do some amateur ghost hunting performing EVP sessions and taking pictures of the theatre. While they were investigating there were a number of footsteps coming from the shop area, the upstairs grid area, and coming up from the basement. His acting partner was able to catch a picture of a misty human figure walking up the basement stairs.

Even with these reported experiences, some people are skeptical of the need for the ghost light. When he found out the reasoning behind the light Jared Martin couldn’t help but laugh. “That’s what it’s for? I figured there was a REAL reason!”

Turner didn’t believe in the stories until his own experience. “I normally consider myself a skeptic on the supernatural, but I was a believer that night!” Jackson said it takes a lot to make her even think that something is off but that rehearsal did it.

Whether they believe in it or not, all of the students take the time to plug in the ghost light when they leave the theatre for the day.

No Comment

Leave a Reply