Arts / Community

Bardwell’s Ghost Spooks Performers

It is common knowledge among dancers, directors, actors, and techies alike that every theater has a resident ghost. Recent events suggest that Dana Hall’s own Bardwell ghost has decided to make an appearance. Because students are often in the presence of this elusive spirit, the question we must all ask is: are we safe?

Performers of all kinds love to tell ghost stories, especially supernatural encounters that have occurred in the theater. Many directors take precautions and install a ghost light in their performance space. A ghost light is a light set in every theater that is always turned on. It is said to appease spirits in the theater and prevent them from harassing the actors or audience.

Maybe the ghost is fed up with Bardwell’s winter drafts or the fact that the building isn’t exactly wheelchair accessible, but whatever it is, students and teachers alike have been feeling the repercussions. Charlotte, a sophomore at Dana, has been in the theater program since she was in the ninth grade. She told her ghost story like this: “We were at rehearsal and a couple of us were backstage right, and there was this one very particular spot…this one very particular cold spot, and we all had the time to notice it. Then we had to go onstage, and a bunch of lights started flickering, and when we went offstage, the cold spot was gone.” What does this mean? Likely, the ghost was trying to instill fear in the actors. Whatever the reason, students in the arts have become very superstitious.

Students have told stories of doors mysteriously slamming in their faces, props disappearing when nobody recalls moving them, and their faces mysteriously developing zits and pimples on the day Adam Richins takes pictures for publicity. Almost everyone agrees: this was the work of the Bardwell Ghost.

What is the cause of these strange encounters? I will not name names, but someone bumped into the ghost light twice in the span of five minutes. Did this anger the ghost? Did he/she/they want to retaliate against this rude breach of their ghost light? Is this connected to a nearly disastrous incident involving a long pipe, an actor’s head, and a mistimed cue that occurred that same evening? You decide. But, as the person who was almost whacked in the head, I can tell you that I am very skeptical that it is the ghost’s doing.

Elisebeth Fenstermaker, head of the theater department at Dana Hall, spends a lot of time in Bardwell. I went to her to ask for her opinion on the ghost. Here is some of what she said: “The Bardwell Ghost isn’t a ghost of anyone, actually…I believe, at least, that because emotions run high in the theater, you know, we’ll put everything we have into a performance, that the Bardwell Ghost is a culmination of that emotion. It’s more of a spirit.” This seems perfectly plausible to me, however, it doesn’t answer the question that’s all on our minds: why is the ghost messing with us?

The cast of The Laramie Project is finally catching a break, but preparations for the winter play will soon be underway, and after that, the highly anticipated dance concert. If large groups of people are in the presence of a ghost or spirit, the question arises: are we free from danger?

Don’t worry; Ms. Fenstermaker is certain that, “As long as the ghost light is on, we are safe.”