“Ghost Light”

Aug 6, 2011 | 3 comments


     Until I read the program notes in my OSF Playbill last night, I had no idea what a “ghost light” was.  And I certainly didn’t realize that we have one, of sorts, at home in Oysterville!
     “In the world of theatre, a ‘ghost light’ is a bare bulb left on as a safety device when the rest of the stage and house lights are dark,” says the Playbill.  “The light also has usefuless in the realm of the supernatural.  Theatrical superstition holds that a ghost light can keep threatening resident ghosts at bay.”
     Last night’s  play concerns Jonathan Moscone’s struggle with his father’s 1978  assasination.  The title “Ghost Light” refers to several ghosts — Jonathan’s father, his grandfather, even Hamlet’s father — and the play touches on issues as contemporary as don’t-ask- don’t-tell and the debt ceiling.
     But I didn’t come away thinking about those heady themes.  I was focussed, instead, on the light we leave burning, day and night, in our living room.  I thought it was a sort of ‘night light’ but, come to think of it, our resident ghost, Mrs. Crouch, seldom manifests herself in that area of the house.  Of course, our ghost light is not a bare bulb — it has a frosted glass shade which seems more in keeping with our old, Victorian decor and, perhaps, with the sensibilities of sweet-voiced Sarah Crouch.
     As always, our Oregon Shakespeare Festival experience has been an enlightening one — so to speak.  


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    In Ilwaco we leave the florescent light over the sink on at night. I think we have a ghost, but it stays upstairs (I hear it walking when I am there alone) so maybe that’s why. Speaking of your lamps, there’s one in particular that Dave and I have discussed having one of us cause a distraction during a house concert and the other “spirit” the lamp away!

  2. Nancy

    No signs or evidence of a ghost “on stage” in our home, but we do leave a light on in the hall 24/7. It is old-fashioned in it’s appearance, sweet and petite, soft green silk shade, energy saving, long lasting, cool bulb. The lamp belonged to Jack’s beloved Aunt Sophie, a friend and colleague of the late Earl Thollander. I like to imagine the spirits communicating via the magic of the “lamp”…

  3. Larry Murante

    It sounds like an interesting play. How fun to be at the OSF! My wife just reminded me of the back story of Moscone’s father’s and Milk’s murder. Tragic indeed.

    About your night light in the living room; I’m especially thankful for its placement as an intermittent performer in said living room. Now if we can only get a “ghost light” in that upstairs guest bedroom!


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