THE MORRISON THEATER
Listen to the audio version read by British folksinger, David Walton from EPISODE 34: HORROR WORLD
Originally the site of a house of…well, let’s just call it a “Gentleman’s Club,”The Morrison Theater shared its space with the city courthouse. The court had the upstairs, the theater the downstairs and for three years I had the great pleasure of working with a very talented group of actors.
Not that I was one of them—it would take a few more years before I built up the nerve (and my nearsightedness got to the point where I couldn’t see the audience) to tread the boards—I was their Stage Manager/Set Builder/Crew and, at least once, literally part of the scenery.
I knew the place was haunted long before I became part of the theater. I used to drive past it every time I visited Morrison and every time I did, I had a “feeling” about the place. So, on my first day as a volunteer I asked the director my usual question: “Who are your ghosts?”
And he told me: there was an old man who liked to wander around the theater, a miner or quarryman, he though, smoking cigars and a couple of “working girls” upstairs in the courthouse. He said he never saw them but from time to time he’d catch a whiff of cigar smoke when he was alone or heard footsteps walking across the floor overhead when he knew the courthouse was empty.
And then, on cue, someone walked across the floor over our heads.
“Like that,” he said.
Of course there was no one upstairs and the courthouse doors were locked.
Over the next few years I became used to the sound of footsteps from the empty room overhead and the scent of cigar smoke—“Jack,” as I dubbed him, seemed to like to hang around while we built the sets—then one particular night I heard something besides footsteps from the empty courthouse.
It was during a performance—a rare one where I didn’t have to hand off a prop or hold up a wall that had suddenly decided to collapse, or help with a costume change—so I walked around the outside of the theater and took my usual place on the courthouse stairs where I could watch the show through a narrow slot in the wall.
While I was watching I heard noises coming from the hall above me. At first I thought it was an echo of the actors’ voices, but I soon realized it was the sound of woman crying, very softly in the empty courthouse.
Of course there was no one there, I looked through the glass inset in the door and the doors were locked. To verify the event, I went back downstairs and got one of the actors who didn’t need to go back on stage until the second act and asked him to come with me. We both heard it and listened until the sound of applause told us the first act was over.
Having done a bit of research on the building I knew that at least one of the girls had been killed by a customer and another had committed suicide. I don’t know which of these women we heard, or even if it was one of them, but it was very sad.
I was to hear the crying woman again many times before I left.
The theater, I am sad to say, is now defunct, but I hope the weeping lady has found some peace.