The Haunted Theater
By Emerald A. Behrens
This incident happened after midnight when I was cleaning up after a show.
I was the Properties Manager (or whatever title it was they gave me at the theater) then.
It was an unpaid position but I was assured by the theater director that it was a labor of love and that was supposed to be the benefit. Needless to say I wasn’t into the free beer others took advantage of.
We had several late night shows at the Blue Room Theatre in the small college town of Chico. The theater had been built in a location that was above Collier Hardware and right next to the old Masonic Temple building. Rumor had it the old Masonic Temple was haunted and actors swore up and down the stage that they had seen a ghost at least once while at the Blue Room Theatre.
I had accepted these stories as you accept the superstition that you never mention, “that Shakespearian play” known as Macbeth in the theater–ever. You are also supposed to leave a ghost light on overnight in the theater always. Even Chico State Laxon Auditorium follows this procedure and I have a picture to prove it.
I think you’re not supposed to whistle backstage too but maybe that’s another superstition.
I accepted that the Blue Room Theatre was supposed to be haunted and that was it.
I had worked in a lot of theaters then: Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare in the Schools (where I played Horatio in Hamlet), Chico Cabaret (Can Can), Butte College (Oedipus Rex, Rent), Chico Women’s Center (Zor and Zam), Chico Peace and Justice Center, (Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom), Chico State Bell Auditorium (The Vagina Monologues) and finally the Blue Room Theatre (Twilight Zone, Sisterhood 123, Clockwork Orange).
I was a seasoned actor, light and sound tech operator, stage manager, and properties master. I did my share of building sets and tearing them down.
That being said, I don’t handle guns on stage and still hate when they use guns in plays. Such was the case with Reservoir Dolls–yes, that’s dolls as in, an all-women cast production of Reservoir Dogs, written and directed by Erika Sorenson.
You get to know a lot of people in theater, some of whom have been on TV and have been in movies.
All these people had the same story, that the Blue Room Theatre was haunted.
I never questioned it.
I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t see a ghost in the theater but figured maybe I’m just not the type to see them.
I didn’t know then that I would soon have my own ghost story to share.
What gets me is that when I tried to tell people what happened, none of them believed me. They had easily brushed me off and made excuses–even though they claimed to have seen a ghost and were believed by everyone.
I think it’s because my ghost story is very different from others.
I thought I was alone in the theater since everyone left me to clean up the back stage area.
I put the props in the attic which made me nervous because in that old building is a broken window that’s never been fixed. Bats sometimes come in. You can see their guano droppings on the floor near the broken window.
During one show we had, a bat had gotten into the lobby and was flying around overhead. I was so scared I had to cover my head so it wouldn’t dive at me. I was scared of being bit and getting rabies.
One brave tech guy, McGuiness, grabbed a broom and managed to herd the bat down the stairs and out the door. I wasn’t fond of encountering another bat in the attic.
Just then I heard footsteps.
“Hey, I’m in here!” I called out, not wanting to get locked in the attic. I’d kick my way out in case anyone did lock me in but I didn’t want to have to pay for a new door. Some of the guy actors liked to play pranks on the young women, especially when the guys actors were drunk.
I didn’t find it one bit funny.
I quickly walked to the door of the attic but no one was there.
“Did you need something?” I called out. There was no answer.
Well, maybe the guy was in the bathroom or went down the stairs.
I locked the attic and went to the back kitchen area just to be sure then checked the front stage. Actors had told me some homeless guy once wandered into the theater so it was good to check the doors and make sure they were locked.
I waited a moment and didn’t hear anything so I went to the back of the theater, going through the lobby this time.
No one was in the bathrooms. I guess they left, I thought.
I went to the green room and was about to shut off the lights when I heard footsteps again in the hallway, where I had just come from.
I sighed, thinking one of the guys must’ve forgot a prop. I didn’t want to go back into the attic again and I wanted to go home.
The hallway was empty, no one was there.
Okay then. I went to the green room to turn off the light when I heard the footsteps again, like they were coming from the kitchen.
I doubled back and rushed to the front lobby. No way would anyone run into the dark green room and if they ran, I would hear them.
I saw the kitchen was empty. No one was there.
I checked the stage one more time and it too was empty.
It was then I started getting the creeps.
BANG BANG BANG!
Someone was knocking on the door downstairs. My heart leapt in my chest and I cautiously went down, ready to bolt in case it was an intruder.
A guy peered at me through the glass door. It was one of the actors.
“Hey! I got locked out! You got a lighter?” he asked through the door.
I shook my head and opened the door.
“Were you in here just now, earlier?” I asked him.
“No. The door was locked.”
I told him what happened, about the footsteps I heard.
He offered to walk through the theater with me but neither of us saw any intruder or heard anything.
“Okay, well, take care then!” he waved as I locked the glass door to the Blue Room entrance.
I couldn’t prove that I had witnessed a ghost walking through the theater so all I could do at that point was go home.
The footsteps sounded like an adult, who walked purposefully like they knew where they were going. I don’t know if the theater was remodeled before or how the building might have changed.
How long had the ghost been there?
What was it looking for? I assume the ghost was a man.
I’m not sure if the ghost knew I was there or if the ghost even knew that they were walking in a theater.
I never heard footsteps in that theater since then.
The Blue Room Theatre above Collier next to the old Masonic Temple has sadly closed since the pandemic took its toll on all the local businesses.
Now the Blue Room operates out of a different location near a bar. It’s unknown if any of the actors have spotted a ghost there or if they’ve heard strange footsteps at night.
I wonder if they still put on the ghost light after they’ve closed for the night, just in case.