Ghost Light

The ghost light is a light that gets left switched on, on the stage while the theatre is empty.  It is usually a single naked bulb on a stand placed downstage centre.  The primary reason for leaving a light switched on is safety.  A ghost light ensures that nobody accidentally trips up in the dark or falls off the front of the stage into the orchestra pit.  This is particularly helpful to whoever has to open the theatre and turn the working lights on, as most theatres have no natural light in the auditorium or on stage and the main switches are usually on stage somewhere.  


There are a number of superstitious reasons for the ghost light too. One superstition is that most theatre ghosts are former actors themselves.  The ghost light gives them enough light to perform on the stage.  It is also considered bad luck not to allow the ghosts to do this at least once a week, hence theatres usually only being open 6 days a week.  


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A contradictory superstition is that the light is there to keep ghosts and evil spirits away from the stage, where they could do harm to the actors when they return.  


There is also an urban legend, although probably untrue, that a burglar once broke into a theatre and injured himself badly falling off the stage in the dark. He then sued the theatre for his injuries, so theatres always keep a light on to lessen any liability.  There are no contemporary sources to suggest that this ever happened


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