Theater Superstitions & the Supernatural

How many of you have heard of a few famous haunted theaters or maybe legends surrounding haunted theaters in your area?
There is a good reason for how frequent this phenomena occurs. Theaters are places that generate great passion from the actors which spills out into the audience. The sheer amount of energy created in a building no doubt leaves behind a few impressions or may lead the spirits to linger. The paranormal has become so synonymous with the theater that many superstitions and traditions revolving the supernatural remain in use today.

Don't Turn Out That Light!

Theaters often leave a ghost light left on overnight on the stage. Although it does have practical safety uses the tradition's origin is more rooted in the paranormal. Some believe it is left on to give the spirits their time to perform on the stage, but the general consensus is the illumination is to appease the ghosts. If the Ghost Light wasn't lit the spirits would cause mischief or worse curse the theater.

Somebody's Watching Me?

There is a rule in the theater to never ever use peacock feathers on stage. The tip of the feather's design is said to be the representation of 'The Evil Eye' also known as 'The Devil's Eye'. If worn on stage the feathers will bring bad luck to the production causing missed lines, scenery collapses, and lighting issues.

The Birth of Tragedy

According to Aristotle, Thespis of Icaria, (which is where we get the word “thespian”, meaning “actor”) was the first actor to ever appear on stage. Men had spoken on stage in forums as themselves or as storytellers but Thespis was the first to appear as a character in the form of a play and this was the birth of tragedy. He is also credited with the creation of theatrical touring. Generally any mischief or mishaps in the theater first get blamed on the ghost of Thespis who is said to travel the world's theaters causing mayhem. November 23rd marks the day of his first performance and being the day he wreaks the most havoc. In order to keep Thespis happy a theater must close it's doors for one night a week which is generally on a Monday. This gives actors the night off after a weekend of performances.

The Play That Shall Not Be Named

“The Scottish Play” or “The Bard's Play” is what theater folk generally call Shakespeare's Macbeth. It is believed that the play is plagued by a curse and uttering the work's title in a theater can bring misfortune. Shakespeare supposedly

used real spells he received from a local coven of witches but that the incantations are incomplete bringing on the curse. The character Hecate's, the Goddess of Witchcraft, lines are believed to strengthen the curse when they are spoken. Other theories include that the play itself was an insult to a group of witches and they cursed the play for eternity or that the cauldron initially used was stolen from a witch. The origin of the tales of the curse date back to opening night when a real dagger was used in place of a prop and an actor died. Other mishaps and tragedy have occurred over the years including injuries, deaths, fires, and a riot.

Written By

Stephanie Sutera

Associate Director & Photographer

Thames Society of Paranormal Investigations

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