Thursday, September 15, 2005

In my research on good ole Mary, I stumbled upon this site, which if you scroll down, you’ll find Rockford-area hauntings. Theatre folk are just ripe for ghost stories it seems, and the Jefferson High School thing must be recent. While I recall that freaky prop deck ladder I refused to climb--a steep climb and deadly fall, I don’t remember any ghost stories related to it. Nor has anything like that actually happened since far as I know in the last 13 years since I graduated. The Rockford College weirdness is well known among the theatre majors. I’ve always wondered if the feng shui in those buildings, built in the 60’s and 70’s, most of which are built into hills, aren’t causing some sort of wackiness. Layouts are maze-like and convoluted. Hallways too long and narrow. I’d never heard the thing about Adams Arch or Burpee Center, though. The radio station had gone kaput around the time I showed up, and all of it’s stuff was moved over to another building and then finally sold at a yard sale. My sister, who lived in mcGaw for a year, I think told me that one of the floors as supposedly haunted. And there was no suicide at Talcott in the early nineties (when I was there), though a girl was attacked at knifepoint and assaulted in the adjoining dorm building by an ex-boyfriend., leading to a campus safety hysteria.

Clark Arts and Maddox Theatre are another story. Personally, I don’t think I ever experienced anything hands down paranormal that was completely unexplainable.. When I was stage managing my first show, in the Maddox booth alone, sitting at the light board when door to the booth suddenly slammed loud enough for the audience to hear. No one around. I was more freaked out about getting my cues right at that moment, but later, it bugged me . Could have been wind, but I’ve always wondered. There was also a weird music stand incident in the green room, in which utterly alone, I walked into prop storage from the green room carrying some lampshades,, turned to come back out and found a music stand in my path which hadn’t noticed before. (Not completely impossible it hadn’t been there before but unlikely since I would have had to step around it..) Tales abounded there, first hand accounts of piano music from the empty green room, the scenery lifts going up and down (this came from a faculty member and not a hysterical actress), things gone missing, lights doing odd things and once, again a faculty member, someone walking toward him in the hall, but when he looked up again, was gone, and no doors between them. I used to tread carefully when I was charged with locking up and turning out lights after rehearsals late at night. I had to cross the nearly dark stage to get from one set of switches to another and of course it felt a little creepy. The smaller theatre, in the basement of the building was even odder. In the summer, when we used to rehearse student shows, we’d argue over who had to go up to that booth to turn on the lights. I played the girl card and thus avoided going up there by myself. The basement, exposed to the outside by one set of doors, does have wind issues. The Cheek theatre doors were known to burst open when you opened the outer doors, and I sat for a whole semester in a room where one of the doors-- leading to another little stage alcove-- rattled and whistled all semester. My sister, who took a lot of art classes over in another wing, reported a general overall creepiness that made her get up and leave at least once when there alone working in the studios in the early morning. That bell story sounds vaguely familiar and sort of funny since I actually brought in a bell from home for a prop (it was porcelain white and had a flower on the side). We couldn’t find one in the cage for the show, a Neil Simon play, but I never took it back and it, along with this cheap plastic fake gilded wall mirror were incorporated into the prop collection. Maybe MINE is the ghostly bell,. oh the horror!! Here's another article featuring RC.

I’ve never been able to say either way whether I believe in ghosts, ie a spirit that has a conscious presence, and agenda, what have you. As an agnostic who’s not even sure she believes in an afterlife, it’s sort of par for the course. Not to say I don’t believe in hauntings though, maybe some sort of electromagnetic impression left in certain places, in regard to certain things. Things like violence and murder, or war, leaving some sort of residue. There was a show segment I watched once about a school in Florida that long-closed still harbored children’s voices, even though none had ever died there, nothing tragic had happened and all the kids had grown into adults and were still alive and well. And yet the school was haunted somehow. New Orleans, already filled with ghostiness according to stories, must be brimming with it now. Might be it’s being surrounded by water on almost every side makes it some kind of vortex. In the Mary stories, Archer Ave is said to be nearly surrounded by various river, canals, and small lakes and seems to be a hotbed for other spookiness besides Mary. Who knows ?

No comments: