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Topic: Time to Haunt a Theatre...
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Sep 14, 2007 10:18AM)
Dear Friends,

As the wonderful month of October comes into view, our thoughts naturally turn to the great day.

I am part of an effort to set up a Ghost Walk on October 29 & 30 at the historic Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor, Maine. This is not a latex-mask-and-bloody-hatchet haunt (as much as I enjoy those). It is a guided tour through an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1932. Sadly, much of the theatre's rich history has been lost, so we are compelled to invent our own stories. Please see my first effort:

[url=www.ibmring362.org/WEAR2007/WEAR2007press.html#presence1]The Presence on Stage Right[/url]

I welcome your comments and suggestions. We would like to have five storytelling stations, so I would be very grateful for additional ideas.

Yours in darkness,

Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Sep 14, 2007 12:02PM)
Hi, Paul,

A number of years ago I did some work at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady, NY, and they showed me this passageway that goes from the lobby to a deeper part of the building. Anyway, the way I remember the story was that there's a chair stored in this passage that used to belong to old Mr. Proctor, and every time somebody moves the chair, it ends up right back where it was.

I don't know if the Criterion has a prop storage room; if it was a road house or movie palace, it probably doesn't. However, a prop room lends itself to lots of stories. There was a story many years ago about a guy who donated his own skeleton for use as a prop in the opera [i]Der Freichutz[/i]. Then there is the skull used in [i]Hamlet[/i], along with the rapiers and poison goblets. Our prop room back in college had a really (and unintentionally) spooky statue made from rigid foam with a cheesecloth robe.

Hope that helps a bit. If I think of anything else, I'll post it.
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Sep 14, 2007 12:26PM)
Dear George,

That helps a lot! Thanks.


Message: Posted by: dough (Sep 14, 2007 02:06PM)
The opening date can be reduced to 666, it was also used for vaudeville, ventriloquist dolls always make for a very haunted story. You could even use the story of an old vaudevillian who never accepted the end of vaudeville and still hangs out waiting to perform.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Sep 14, 2007 03:01PM)
Darn it, Paul, now you've got me thinking... always a dangerous thing.

According to the theater's Web site, the place was built in 1932, which was just a few years into the great depression here in the U.S. So what if the theater was built on the site of a factory or plant owned by an old industrialist. He lost it all in the depression and then shot himself in his office, which was physically where one of the dressing rooms was built later. So every now and then you hear a shot in this room, and see a flash of red reflected in the mirrors.

Back to lunch.
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Sep 14, 2007 03:12PM)
This is starting to simmer very nicely!

I have been on Ghost Walks in San Francisco and New Orleans. They use as much actual local history as they can. Most of the island burned in the fire of 1947, but strangely enough, no one was killed. The crash of 1929 hit the town very hard. Before that, the shops on Main Street had sister shops on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Diamonds, fur coats, running boards, the works.

The green room under the stage was, in its day, an honest-to-gosh speakeasy. Unfortunately, we can't take the tour there, both because the stairs going down are narrow and hazardous (but the performers use them), and because there is a pretty bad mold problem down there and we don't want to kill anyone with asthma (it cuts into the box office).

Theaters are pretty spooky anyway, but with lost fortunes, crumbling mansions waiting to be destroyed by fire, and illegal gin through the back door and down the steps, I think that we are going to get somewhere with this.


Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Sep 14, 2007 03:17PM)
Sounds great. Keep us posted!
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Sep 16, 2007 07:21AM)
[show some human bones with a bit of concrete attached to them]

During a remodeling faze in 1957 these bones were found in a "hollow" of the concrete right over here. This appears to be the final resting place of at least one person. During the night, before the police could further investigate, the wall where this was found mysteriously was destroyed, and no other bones were found. This ring was found with the bones, and it is believed to be the ring of city councilman "XXXXXXXXXXXX". Since his whole family disappeared, no one has been able to confirm that it was his.

The theater was originally sponsored by organized crime figure "XXXXXXXXXXXX". "XXXXXXXXXXXX" loved the theater and also sponsored many plays both before its construction and after its finish. He also donated the concrete and much of the labor for building. It is said that several people that crossed his path now are buried in these walls.

One may be a theatrical critic that mysteriously disappeared in 1932 after stupidly giving (this / a) caustic review of a play "XXXXXXXXXXXX" had sponsored. Sometimes after a show one can hear an over enthusiastic clapping in the crowd's response. It is said that it is the sound of the critic trying to redeem himself.

In 1946 a prop pistol was switched with a real loaded pistol, and there was an actual death, right here on stage during a performance. The actor, ""XXXXXXXXXXXX" received a standing ovation for his realistic portrayal, and no one, including the other actor that unknowingly shot him, realized it was real - until it was too late. The shooter was later released when it was determined he was not involved. No one was ever charged, but the actor that was shot had turned down a part in a play that the crime boss "XXXXXXXXXXXX" had sponsored.

Since the 60's there have been numerous break-ins. Hexagrams and small burned areas and strange writing has been found after each. Here are some photos of a more recent occurrence. Nothing was ever stolen. I have no explanation, but here is where they usually occur.

All this can be confirmed with fake newspaper clippings and other props. Of course, it needs lots of embellishment to fill things out.
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Sep 16, 2007 09:23PM)
Well, that certainly gives us another direction to explore! A bit of historical research and a bit of prop fabrication will take us far down this road. Thank you!


Message: Posted by: ufo (Sep 20, 2007 08:19AM)
Go get em! don't forget to take ghost picutres on cell phones with that Andrew Mayne thingy!
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Sep 21, 2007 05:56AM)
At this point, we have one story well developed and the seeds of two more.

They want me to do the Presence on Stage Right. I will be able to show the cold spot using a thermometer. When I pick up the cigar at the end, still in the wrapper, a puff of smoke will come off of it while I handle it. I won't notice this.

For the last station, on stage left above the speakeasy, the actor will come up the steps to tell a chilling tale adapted from Terry Tyson's wonderful story of mismatched love, jealosy, and murder (An Evening with Anna Hastings). The guests then get booted out the stage door and have to walk up a dark alley to get to the street!

We have a station on the balcony, which cries out for a suicide by hanging. I think that this story will be based an an ill-fated production of Macbeth. The cast straggles out to meet for dinner and drinks after the show, but the actor playing Banquo doesn't show up. The actor playing Macbeth raises a glass to the empty chair, saying,

[i]And to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss:
Would he were here! to all, and him, we thirst,
And all to all.[/i]

The actor suddenly turns pale. His friends tell him to knock it off, the play's over. He insists on returning to the theater. There, hanging from the balcony rail, is the actor who played Banquo. A telegram found in his pocket explains everything...


Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Sep 21, 2007 07:13AM)
The narrow dangerous stairs leading to the speakeasy, suggest something. Rum-running was probably good business in BH, as it was in most New England ports.

Also, that fact that the theatre didn't get destroyed in the great fire, suggests that it's protected. But why is it protecte, and by what? How does it show itself? Are there other manifestations?
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Sep 21, 2007 02:47PM)
Interesting ideas! I'm not sure who made the money off the booze during Prohibition here, but I will look into it.

Another of our stations is the "waiting room" in the women's bathroom near the balcony. Besides a couch and some posters, the room contains a 1930s carbon-arc spotlight. That suggests some interesting possibilities.


Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Sep 22, 2007 06:11AM)
Is the light said to shine, at certain times? What would it bring to light?

What kinds of things may have happened on that couch? Might it have been a "retiring" room, especially during the time the place was a speakeasy?

Maybe there was a young woman of innocence and beauty, led down the path to the dark life of the speakeasy and the demon alcohol, whirled up in romance with a young man who, though of seemly appearance, cared for nothing except himself. They're caught on the couch by a jealous lobsterman (you MUST have lobsters somewhere in this), who kills them both. The bodies were discovered in another part of town (since they couldn't be found in the speakeasy), but the couch bears a mark. The spotlight had been stored there. Afterward, every time they took it out of the room, somehow it ended up back there. And it would only light, to illuminate the horrors of what happened on the couch. And if you look very carefully, you'll notice that one of the posters had changed. There's an extra set of faces in the picture, looking out at the room in horror.

Maybe a bag or a handkerchief appears on the couch, on the anniversary of the scandal. (Naturally, this happens while the audience is looking at the poster...no distractions here, eh?)

Now, what's in the bag?
Message: Posted by: Rory Raven (Sep 22, 2007 08:27PM)
Don't forget about the two actors who fought over the love of one of the actresses, until one of them ended up dead ....

Or the slightly weird guy who came every night to see every performance by an actress he was madly in love with (accent on Madly)... and he still visits every night ....

So much fun to be had here!