According to Wikipedia (I know, I know, bear with me) a ghost light is an “electric light that is left energized on the stage of a theater when the theater is unoccupied and would otherwise be completely dark.”
The same article mentions the principle reason for this is safety, removing the danger of navigating a dark theater without accidentally falling into, say, the orchestra pit.
There’s also a bit of superstition attached to this long-held tradition: each theater’s resident ghost also needs light to move about the theater and perform when no one is there.
This year, there will be another layer added to the ghost light’s history, a layer of inclusion and compassion for everyone who participates in theater.
On Jan. 19, theaters around the nation will collectively create a “light” for the future, renewing a pledge that theaters stand for and protect inclusion, participation and compassion for everyone – no matter their religion, gender, race or class.
The local Theatre B has a long tradition of supporting these values. In the past, they have participated in similar national events, including when they staged “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later” in 2009 and “8: The Play” in 2012.
They also coordinated with Minnesota State University Moorhead and their Rainbow Dragon Center in 2011 to perform “Standing with Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.”
“When the Ghostlight Project came to my attention, I was thrilled,” said Theatre B Executive Director Carrie Wintersteen in a press release sent to The Spectrum. “Theatre B’s mission is to invigorate civic conversation. We specify respect, empathy and trust in our values statement. And our vision includes the goal of being enmeshed in an equitable, inviting and creative community. The Ghostlight Project is a way to remind everyone that these are the values that guide our work.”
To celebrate the Ghostlight Project, people are encouraged to come to the current home of Theatre B, the Broadway Theatre Garage, on Jan. 19 at 5:15 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., there will be a lighting ceremony, which will include the lighting of the theater’s ghost light. Members of the Theatre B ensemble will also read from their favorite works that highlight inclusion, participation and compassion, the values of the Ghostlight Project.
“As actors, we embrace ‘the other,’ bravely stepping into someone else’s shoes, allowing audiences to practice empathy for characters in situations they can only imagine,” Wintersteen said.
For more information on the Ghostlight Project at Theatre B, please call (701) 729 – 8880. If you wish to learn more about participating theaters and the inspiration for the Ghostlight Project, you can visit their website, theghostlightproject.com.