I think this is like, my first blog by request.
Maybe not the first, but it’s been a little while.
You all loved hearing about The Roxy Theatre ghosts, huh? Well, I had many, many experiences while I was working there, yesterday’s story being one of the most striking ones. But in terms of full-on shivery fear, it’s got nothing on this story.
It was the summer of 2008. Since I worked at The Roxy and I’m generally awesome, my bosses let me rehearse my Fringe show at the theatre (clearly they are also generally awesome).
Fantastic, except for the fact that the auditorium and backstage are a little…eerie.
I don’t know about you guys (well, I know what a lot of people think), but every single time I’ve ever stood backstage in that theatre, I’ve felt that there was also a man back there, and he didn’t necessarily feel nice. Standing back there in the dark during a production waiting to go on stage always made me feel like I had to pee out of sheer anxiety. Going through the backstage area to turn out the lights at the end of the night was even worse.
“Watch me! Watch me, watch me, watch me!!!” I’d shout at my stage manager while I turned out the last light and ran down the side hallway back toward the auditorium to leave. I say “ran” because that’s exactly what I did. I booked it. Every. Single. Time. It was as though if I couldn’t see him watching me, I’d never get out. It’s hard to explain unless you stand there. Everyone I’ve made stand there has said, “Yes. I feel exactly what you mean.”
The thing I learned very quickly when I actually started rehearsing in the theatre is that The Man, as I’ll refer to him, is like, everywhere all the time. Sometimes I’d be sitting in the front row watching rehearsals and I’d feel like there was someone watching me watching rehearsals. I’d glance over my shoulder and see the shadow of a man, sitting way at the back of the auditorium in the last row. Sometimes I’d glance back and he’d be standing in the doorway, a distinct figure. Sometimes he’d be walking by one of the sets of doors, leading me to actually get up, go out into the lobby, and double check that the front doors were securely locked. Sometimes, when I’d get on stage to talk to my cast about blocking or whatever needed to be discussed, I’d glance out and see him standing up in the production booth.
Luckily, he was never sitting directly behind me when I glanced back.
There was one particular night, though, that he made his presence very obvious to all of us.
Like a perfect horror movie, while we were inside rehearsing on a late week night, it was pouring rain outside. I had been creeped out enough so far during our rehearsal process that my reaction to the storm was , “Oh, great. Now this.”
It was getting very late – around 10 or 11pm – and for whatever reason (well, just read the above for a plethora of reasons), I was feeling pretty done for the night. I kind of just wanted to go home.
SIDENOTE: This was also the summer of no sleep. So it had just been a long day, week, month, everything.
I thought that it was just me feeling a little nervous that night. I had done the shoulder glance a number of times and seen The Man at the back of the auditorium, and I was starting to fear that he would get closer.
And then my fear came very true.
The cast was smack dab in the middle of running a scene when it happened: loud, distinct footsteps, clomping all the way from the back of the house, through the auditorium, and all the way backstage. They were heavy and evenly timed, and they were full of purpose.
The entire cast fell silent.
“What the fuck was that?!” my lead actress shouted, her eyes widening.
And then we all looked up.
Because the footsteps weren’t in the auditorium with us; they were coming from above our heads.
“Is someone on the roof?” my stage manager asked.
“If they are, they climbed up from the outside of the building,” I replied, “The roof access is upstairs, inside.”
“That was in the ceiling.” one of the actors spat, “Like above us. Is someone in here?!”
I shook my head and said:
“Let’s go home.”
And we left the theatre as quickly as we possibly could.
“WATCH ME!” I yelled, practically crying as I turned out the lights.
We exited in a holding-hands cluster, ran to our respective vehicles, and didn’t sleep that night.
But I was curious. I didn’t understand how someone could even get from the production booth to the backstage above the auditorium. So the next day at work, I found the theatre’s technical director – who at the time was a total skeptic (he later changed his mind!) – and asked him about it.
“Hey, can you walk from the booth to the backstage, like, upstairs?”
“Yup. For sure.”
“Well, I mean, you can crawl, sort of. There’s a attic sort of thing. It goes from the booth to the poop deck backstage. But the attic has a lot of beams in it now, so you can’t walk through.”
“But you could before?”
“Yeah, absolutely. Back when it was a movie theatre. You could walk the whole way.”
“Like, quickly. Without obstruction.”
“For sure. Why do you ask?”
The Roxy Theatre in Edmonton, y’all. Totally haunted. (PART II!)
P.S. Tomorrow I’ll write about something not ghostly.