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Theatre Happenings

John Ciccarelli, New Jersey, US
December 2000

I'm an actor and work with a theater company based in New Jersey and what follows is a chronicle of occurrences that have been experienced by myself and few other members of our company in our current theater.

The building itself is an annex to a private school in the middle of an urban location with our company occupying the top floor. In the past it has been used as a bar/dance hall, theater, reception hall and some school activities. Although, I've have never gotten an exact age for the building, certain old photos and original architecture place it at about 150 years old.

From the day we first saw the space it seemed to have a heaviness about it. The dark interior and crumbling walls only added to the oppressive atmosphere. On our initial tour, you constantly had the feeling you were being watched, especially while walking the main stairway.

Our main construction/electrical guy, who had been spending a lot of extra time there to make the place workable, was the first to report something out of the ordinary. He said that he often felt watched while working on a set or rigging lights. He would often see the silhouette of a man out of the corner of his eye, but it would disappear whenever he looked at it directly. He saw the man, usually just standing, in the doorways of the theater or near the bathrooms and described him as a tall man in early forties. One night he was closing up late and saw a human like form walking up the stairs toward him. Being a bit crazy and having lived with ghosts, he decided to walk right through it. He said it felt cold and ascertained that it was only a residual memory left on the building.

Although being a firm believer in the supernatural, I blew off the incident until I started having my own encounters.

One night after a performance of our debut show, I was locking up the dressing rooms and saw a black shadow in the outline of a man dart from our green room to an adjacent stairwell. It only lasted for a split second, but the image had fully registered. Later on, I would at odd moments see a cloud of white smoke, usually floating near the bathrooms or the fire escape. The whole time I felt that perhaps our electrical guy had been right and it was simply something left over in the building, that all changed during our next show.

Right after a rehearsal, an actress saw a tall man standing on the corner of the stage. She went up to him thinking it was her co-star and he just vanished. The next night during a dress rehearsal all of her props, costumes and makeup was misplaced from where she left them only to reappear minutes after she needed them. This continued to plague her for the run of the show but to a lesser extent. Now thinking we had a conscience entity, I decided to try and talk to him in order to make peace with him, seeing that we had to share the same space.

This worked for a while as sightings and physical movements seemed to diminish significantly. I had gotten quite accustomed to talking with the ghost and liked it, until the day it attacked me.

I decided to come on a Saturday to give the floors a good cleaning and as I was mopping, I felt a burning sensation on my shoulder. I finally stopped to look at my shoulder and noticed two red welts running down toward my chest, which had been there previously. It then occurred to me that they were thin nail marks. Instead of being scared, I felt angry and betrayed and I went out into the theater and yelled at the ghost for about 5 minutes, got my stuff and left. This didn't help matters as the silhouette was then sighted more often.

One day a producer and I were looking for a bench and we heard a crash on the stairs. We then heard heavy, boot-like footsteps walking up the staircase and into the open doorway. The floor which creaks like crazy whenever you walk on it, did so as if someone had walked into the room. We didn't see anything, but being used to it to the noises, we weren't that unnerved. I made a point to stop acknowledging the ghost and the occurrences diminished a bit.

Later the place was refurbished quite a bit and the happenings seemed to stop altogether. We thought the changes had disrupted the ghost's activities, but during our last show, he made itself known again. It called out an actress' name when standing behind her and people have constantly felt a presence when using the bathrooms.

Recently, when leaving the place around midnight, I happened to look at a dark basement window, which then opened up on its own. It raised up about a foot and there was no one else inside the building. Due to contract disputes, we'll be moving out of the place soon.

I hope whoever inherits the space has a better run at dealing with the unseen then we have.

John Ciccarelli, New Jersey, US
00:00 / 01:04
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