ghosts

Definitions

Theater

  • Some of the best-known and most visible of all ghosts seemto haunt London theaters. Many sightings have been described in detail,such as that of the spirit that "flew up to the ceiling, madehis way through the tiling, and tore away one-fourth of the house"after the final presentation at Lincoln's Inn Theatre in 1732. In mosttheaters, tradition says that a sighting is a good omen for the playcurrently being performed.

    The most famous of Drury Lane's several ghosts isthe so-called man in grey. This is said to be the spiritof an actor who was stabbed to death during a stage fight in the 18thcentury. (When the theater was demolished in 1791, a body was foundbricked up in a wall with a knife in the ribs.) The man in grey isa brazen daytime ghost who frequents matinées; he has beenseen in the upper circle and on stage. Drury Lane is also home toa screaming woman often heard backstage, and the spirit of the actorClifford Heatherley, who died during the run of Crest of the Wave(1937).

    Vying with the man in grey as London's most recognizable ghostis John Buckstone at the Haymarket Theatre. Buckstone (1802 - 79)had a long association with the theater as actor, playwright, andmanager; popular sentiment says he simply remained behind becauseof his love for the place. He has been seen by many actors, includingMargaret Rutherford, while others have heard him rehearsing his linesin a dressing room. Buckstone is said to appear only when a productionis going well.

    A sadder ghost is that of the actor William Terriss,who appears dressed in a frock coat and top hat in the Adelphi Theatre,the scene of his murder in 1897.

    Three ghosts roamed the Royalty Theatre in Dean Streetbefore it was demolished in 1955. A lady in Queen Anne dress usedto descend the stairs and disappear in the middle of the vestibule,a gypsy girl with a tambourine would appear when the orchestra played,and the 19th-century actress Fanny Kelly used to wander unconcernedlythrough the theater in the daytime.

    The resident ghost at the Bristol Old Vic is the great 18th-centuryactress Sarah Siddons, whose lover hanged himself there.The actor Frank Barrie once felt a tap on his shoulder after a rehearsaland turned around to see her sitting in a box at the edge of the stage.

    Perhaps the most unexpected of London's theatrical ghosts is thatof flipper, a dolphin who perished during an acquatic performance at theRoyalty Theatre (now the Peacock). The creature is said to make a patheticsquawking sound, rather like that of a tiny baby.

  • (written as Ghosts)
    Henrik Ibsen's most controversial work, a tragedythat uses sexually transmitted disease as a symbol of inherited andcollective guilt. The play, a great landmark in the development of realistdrama, was first performed in 1882 in Chicago before an audience ofScandinavian immigrants. Although presented earlier by the IndependentTheatre Society, the play did not have a licensed production in Britainuntil 1914, when it was staged at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket; theDaily Telegraph critic Clement Scott described Ibsen's play as"an open drain, a loathsome sore, an abominable piece, a repulsiveand degrading work".

    The plot concerns Helen Alving, a wealthy widow, and her painter son Oswald, who has just returned from Paris. As a result of his father's debauchery, Oswald now suffers from a congenital disease. It also transpires that Regine, the woman with whom he has been having an affair, is his illegitimate half-sister. Upon learning of her parentage, Regine decides to leave Oswald, whose brain is beginning to be affected by the disease. As the curtain falls Oswald pleads with his mother to give him a fatal dose of pills.

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