With Halloween upon us, we thought it would be fun to get a little eerie with some ghost stories! Here at GLT, many have speculated about paranormal activity in the theatre and even more have the experiences to put some credit to the tall tales. (read time of 6 minutes)
I spoke to Sam McCalla, (associate artistic director) Cory Granner, (resident lighting and sound designer) and Ryan Bradburn, (graphic and scenic artist) to get the inside SPOOK and let me warn you, their stories are downright bone chilling.
The most well known, or rather most often encountered ghosts, in the theatre include Nancy, the former artistic director Bob McLane, and Civil War hospital ghosts.
No one really knows who Nancy is or why she often shows up to say hello to people in the theatre. Many years ago there was a production taking place and an actress on stage noticed an audience member get up out of their seat and walk onstage in the middle of the show. Afterwards, the actress was asking people if they had noticed this woman, to which many responded with “Oh, you saw the ghost. You saw Nancy!” Who is Nancy, you may ask? We really aren’t sure. Perhaps she used to be a great performer, or maybe an audience member that loved the theatre and always dreamed of getting on stage. We may never know but it sure is interesting when she shows up!
Another very famous story is that of Suzanne and Allen McCalla’s experience with the previous artistic director Bob McLane. It was close to 1AM and Allen and Suzanne had just started working at Greenville Little Theatre. They were staying late to paint the stage floor when they looked up and saw a figure towards the back of the theatre. Suzanne turned and said “Allen, do you see that?” Allen then noticed the figure and promptly replied, “We need to go.” They immediately left their materials and evacuated the theatre for the evening.
There is speculation that Bob McLane has watched many dress rehearsals since Allen and Suzanne began working here. He has been spotted many times sitting in section A2 or B2. Others have seen him in the A1 handicap entrance to the theatre watching performances since that is where he used to watch shows when he was the artistic director. Many speculate, especially after his appearance to Suzanne and Allen, that he is checking in to see how the theatre is doing. However, he has not been seen in a little while. Perhaps that is a good sign that Allen and Suzanne are doing a terrific job!
Another tidbit that lends itself as an explanation of these ghost sighting is the history of the building itself. The land on which the Greenville Little Theatre was built used to be a hospital for soldiers during the Civil War. Sam McCalla speaks of being here when he was 13 for a sleepover campout. He recalls seeing light coming from the crack under a doorway and shadows moving back and forth akin to gurneys rolling back and forth and people moving down a hallway as if in a hospital.
One of the actresses who often performs with our theatre has told us that the backstage right area of the theatre is particularly difficult for her as she can sense a presence in the vicinity.
Cory Granner tells a story of being in the theatre around 2AM with an old co-worker Eric Chamness. They were staying late because they were getting ready for the next show, and they heard some footsteps. “We were concerned that maybe we had forgotten to close the backstage door because we had just come back from getting some food. So we went to double check only to find that the doors were all locked. Returning to the booth, we continued to work, and there was this weird weight in the room, as if something wasn’t right.” Continuing to work, Cory began to notice that some of the lights he was attempting to program were not responding anymore. “I just assumed I was getting exhausted so I ignored it and kept working. Then, all of a sudden, we heard loud footsteps coming from above us in the catwalks.” Deciding to separate and search the theatre, Cory headed to the back while Eric went to the front. “While I was back there I didn’t see anything but I heard a woman’s scream that sounded like it was directly behind me. We met back in the auditorium and Eric said to me ‘ must be nothing man, let’s just get this done’ so we went back to work. Exactly an hour later, the weight in the room lifted and everything felt normal again. I looked at Eric and we knew immediately it was time to leave. As we were heading out of the theatre Eric said to me ‘I didn’t tell you before but while I was in the lobby I heard a woman scream and it sounded like it was coming from right behind me.’ I looked at him and said, ‘That’s weird because I didn’t tell you, but I heard the same thing backstage and it sounded like it coming from right behind me too.’ That night might have been the craziest thing that’s ever happened. The whole experience is still super vivid to this day.”
Cory told us another story of when he was working late one night with another old co-worker, Katie King. They were linking the show, (putting the light cues together), and all of a sudden they heard a banging coming from underneath the stage, and then the power shut off. Two second later it snapped back on and everything was quiet again.
He also shared a story of Katie’s about how one night she was sitting at the back of the theatre watching show and knew that sometimes Ronny (GLT’s concessions manager), would go sit behind her and watch the show too. One night Katie was back there and felt her hair move on her shoulder. She turned and said “Hi Ronny,” only to find that no one was there.
Cory said that often, and sometimes on a daily basis, things in the theatre will just move. They won't be where you last left them and you will be sitting there in disbelief knowing you didn’t move it but wondering if someone or something else did.
I also asked Ryan Bradburn for one of his favorite stories. Ryan often works late and alone at the theatre so he has a history of crazy encounters. Ryan said, “So one time I was working very late at the theatre building trees for Ah Wilderness. I had built my frame out of chicken wire with wood and was covering it with fabric dipped in glue. I was using a stapler to attach it to the wooden frame. Then, I noticed that every time I would reach for the stapler it would be across the stage. I figured I was in the middle of working and kept stepping back to check out my work and left the stapler. So this went on for a few hours until finally I got fed up and set the stapler on a stool beside to me so the next time I needed it I would have it. A few minutes passed and I reached for the stapler and found it was not on the stool, it was back across the stage. When I realized what was happening I heard the loudest bang coming from the basement under the stage!!! I didn't clean up or do anything but left as fast as I could!”
So the next time you venture out to a production at our theatre make sure to keep an eye out for Bob McClane, Nancy, or any other spirit hanging about. But make sure to keep the conversation to a minimum, they're probably there to enjoy the show as well!
Happy Halloween from all of us here at GLT!