Archive for September 20th, 2015

September 20, 2015

Ghost Light

ghost light

A ghost light is an electric light that is left lit on the stage of an unoccupied theater. It typically consists of an exposed bulb mounted in a wire cage on a portable light stand near center stage. Ghost lights are also sometimes known as ‘equity lights’ or ‘equity lamps,’ possibly indicating their use was originally mandated by the Actors’ Equity Association. A ghost light enables one to navigate the theater to find the lighting control console and to avoid accidents such as falling into the orchestra pit or damaging set pieces. Aside from its obvious practical purpose, there are a number of superstitions associated with the origin and purpose of ghost lights.

A popular legend holds that every theater has a ghost. Some theaters have traditions to appease ghosts that reach far back into their history. For example, the Palace Theatre, London keeps two seats in their balcony permanently bolted open to provide seating for the theater ghosts. Similar superstitions hold that ghost lights provide opportunities for ghosts to perform onstage, thus appeasing them and preventing them from cursing the theater or sabotaging the set or production. The use of ghost lights might also be a throwback to the 1800s when theaters were lit with gas lamps. Leaving a flame burning would prevent the buildup of pressure in the gas lines which could cause an explosion.