Submitted by horror author PD Cacek & read by British folksinger David Walton
Listen to the audio version from Episode 32: Women in Horror
It took a few years, but my nearsightedness finally got bad enough to get me on stage. I still built sets, but from time to time I gathered up my courage, took off my glasses, and got into character.
It was during one of these builds, while most of the other actor/builders were still down in the greenroom eating lunch, that I came upstairs to check sight lines (the outermost area of the stage that can be seen by the audience). I was sitting in a chair to the extreme left of center when one of the actresses walked up the center aisle. At first I only caught her out of the corner of my eye, but saw that she was in costume—a period piece with a long black shirt and high-necked, long sleeved white blouse—but when I turned to say hi…no one was there.
I got up and walked to the stairs leading down to the greenroom, thinking she’d turned around, only to find the rest of the cast and crew coming back upstairs. When I asked them about the woman in the costume, they asked me to describe her. When I did, the director said, “Oh, that’s just Lydia, our ghost.”
Ah, that would explain it.
That was my initial meeting with Lydia. Lydia is a very social ghost with a “lively” sense of humor and loves nothing more than playing with the theater lights. I remember one time when the rehearsal ran very late and it was all we poor actors could do was drag ourselves out to our cars. Everything was off except the house lights, which the director would turn off when he left. When the majority of us were in the lobby, holding open the outside door, the director turned off the house lights…and a center spot snapped on.
The light booth was empty, but it’s an old theater and sometimes a switch isn’t turned completely off, so the house lights were turned back on and a volunteer dragged himself back up the spiral stairs to the light booth. He did, in fact, find the switch turned back into the ON position and turned it off…making sure it wasn’t a short by turning the light on and off a few times before coming back down. However, the moment the director turned off the house lights the spot came on again.
We just looked at each other until the director told Lydia we were all too tired to play and she could leave the light on if she wanted to. Just as we were pulling the front door shut, we all heard a clicks when the spot went out.
Another time I got to the theater early a bit early to do a little prep work before getting into costume (I was playing a 13th Century Nun). I’d put my things in the dressing room and came upstairs thought the house, did a visual check of the set (it had been a bear to build) then went out into the lobby to pick up a program where I found a fellow cast member (and our computer expert) checking ticket sales for that night’s performance.
He smiled and told me I had a lovely singing voice and asked why I didn’t do more musicals. I asked him what the heck he was talking about. He said he’d heard me singing downstairs and just wanted to tell me how beautiful he thought my voice was. I told him not only wasn’t I singing but that I don’t generally don’t sing (unless it’s in the shower or under directorial threat). He went a bit pale and asked me if I was teasing him. I swore I wasn’t. When he asked if I’d heard a woman singing I said I hadn’t, but suggested he might have heard someone singing outside the theater.
He said the singing had come from the dressing rooms downstairs—where I had been and hadn’t heard anything.
He told the story to the rest of the cast and one of them remembered hearing a woman sing, this time on the stage, when he…and only he was there alone.
Lydia is a song bird with a lovely voice…and she’s not alone. From time to time I got the impression of a small boy, around six years of age, wearing a pale blue “sailor suit” circa 1890s or thereabout. When I asked others about him no one seemed to know anything about a small boy, but said he might have been Lydia’s son. Both of them had been buried in the cemetery when the theater had been a church. When the church was made redundant the cemetery and its inhabitants were moved.
But it seems as though Lydia and her son decided to stay on.