Our Ghost Light of Hope

Written by: Pamela Perry

For fans, the lighting is a big part of their experience at the MJN Convention Center. Fans eagerly wait for the lights to go down and then up again at the end of their adventure here. But what the staff find most magical of the theater lighting is when all the people have gone, when the stage is once again empty, and only the memories and notes of the night are illuminated by a single light hanging near the stage called the “Ghost light”.

Our stage remains dark into another week as people across the globe fight to contain the spread of COVID-19. While the coronavirus has unwillingly confined millions of people to their homes, our ghost light, along with hundreds of others across the globe remain lit.

The practical reason for the ghost light which was allegedly mandated by the Actors’ Equity Association is a way to safely navigate the stage after everyone has gone home and the power has been turned off. The light is typically a single bulb left on or near the stage once the theater goes dark. The light helps the remaining crew to not fall off the stage or trip over any left equipment.

However the theory of the light has since evolved into various superstitious beliefs and metaphors we find rather eerie and magical!

The superstitious believe that all theaters have ghosts whether they are of old performers or people who used to work in the building. Some theaters appease their ghosts by leaving out the light for the ghosts’ dances or performances, while others believe that the ghost light helps keep the ghosts away from the stage and not cause any mischief while people are gone. Whether the lights are left on to keep the ghosts at bay or to indulge them, most spirits in the theaters are not malicious. The traditions and mysteries behind the ghost lights certainly give the theater an added fascination factor though!

Around the world, some stories might give some truth to the ghost light superstitions but others may not believe them at all. Regardless what you believe, the tradition of turning on the ghost light gives us a sense of unity, magic, and respect to the performers of the past. When you see the little light at the edge of a dark theater it makes you think about all of the shows that have been here and what ghosts may lurk about. Anything can happen here. A ghost light can be of comfort to us and shows us of the theater’s ability to be a light in the darkness. A beacon of hope during this defining moment in time.

A single reminder that even while the stage is dark, that our light will not extinguish.

Like George Benson who happens to be the first artist on
Mid-Hudson Civic Center’s Stage back in 1976 sang:
“Never give up on a good thing
Remember what makes you happy (Whoa, whoa)
Never give up on a good thing
If love is what you got, you’ve got a lot”

Stay Healthy.