An old tradition dictates that when actors leave the stage, a bare light bulb remains burning in the theater to keep the building’s ghosts company.
Veteran thespians call it a ghost light.
That’s what we thought of when we saw this picture of a ghost hanging over the Pittsburgh Playhouse on Craft Avenue in Oakland.
Back in October 1979, as Halloween drew near, Pittsburgh Press feature writer Barbara Cloud visited the building after midnight, flashlight in hand.
She heard rain on the roof and the clatter of radiators.
“With the energy expelled within the theater’s stages,” Ms. Cloud wrote, “is it any wonder ghosts would be imagined, felt, feared and at times, seen?”
For the record, she did not see any ghosts.
Still, performers have reported hearing footsteps near the men’s dressing room and believe they belong to the veteran actor John Johns, who died of a heart attack at the Playhouse in 1963. Others say they have seen his ghost — and it wears a tuxedo.
A lady dressed in white is supposedly the ghost of a woman who committed two murders then took her own life during the 1930s. That was back when one of the two buildings that were converted into the Pittsburgh Playhouse was a bar.
At night in an empty dressing room, actors have heard the cries of Weeping Eleanor, who perished in a fire in one of the rowhouses where part of the Playhouse now stands.
Whether these spirits are real or imagined, we hope someone backstage leaves the light on for them on this All Hallows Eve.
(Top picture: This photo illustration accompanied a story about Barbara Cloud’s ghost hunting adventure at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.)