Clarissa Johal: #Paranormal Wednesday - #Haunted Theatre #ghosts

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

#Paranormal Wednesday - #Haunted Theatre #ghosts

Victoria High School of the Arts, 1962
This week I'm going to share my story of a haunted theatre (cue in scary over-the-top theatre music). Specifically, a school theatre in the Victoria School of the Arts located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I graduated from this high school in 1982. Back then, the school was known as Victoria Composite High School and was just that; a school divided in half.
The newer half of the building was dedicated to vocational students, while the other half, aka the "old" building, was where the theatre students were relegated. We didn't mind. The old half of the building was cool and we loved it.

Our theatre arts department housed not one, but two stages; a main stage and smaller "black box" theatre. Under the main stage in the basement, was the make-up, costume and dressing rooms, plus several storage rooms for props. Spooky? You bet. Especially if you had to go down there alone.

The main theatre and basement were notoriously haunted and rumors abounded as to whom the ghost might be. One rumor said a student was killed in an accident involving a stage light, another said they hung themselves in one of the dressing rooms, and yet another said they'd slit their wrists in the bathroom. Regardless, there were several incidents that fueled these rumors.

Early one Saturday morning, our cast was rehersing and the only ones in the school (yes, we were that dedicated). While standing at the back of the theatre to see how the stage lights looked, we saw the stage trap-door rise and fall with a bang. We ran downstairs to see if someone was in the basement. With only one set of stairs down and no other way out, we would have come face-to-face with someone had they tried to leave. There was nobody down there. All the prop, costume and dressing room doors were locked, including the door with access to the stage trap-door. Needless to say, any treks into the basement that Saturday were put off until later. Not that we were scared or anything... 

Even though the basement held a spooky vibe, we'd often hang out in the dressing rooms during lunch. We were "supposed" to be rehersing and we were...80% of the time. The other 20% we were doing what high school kids do - talking, napping, sometimes we'd even catch up on homework. Once, we smuggled an Ouija Board past our teacher and spent the afternoon trying to contact whatever would listen. Yeah, we were that dumb.

The girls dressing room and ajoining bathroom seemed to be the hub of activity in the basement. The bathroom shower would turn on-and-off by itself (the first time this happened, I ran to catch the culprit but the water turned off as soon as I entered). While studying lines in the dressing room, out of the corner of my eye, I'd see someone behind me, floating about two feet off the ground. I'd find out later that this same experience happened to many of the students. Because of that, I always felt the rumor of someone hanging themselves in the dressing room was plausible.

On-stage during rehersals, I'd see someone sitting in the back right corner in the audience. If I stepped to the apron to get a better look, the person would disappear. It wasn't a shadow due to stage lights because I'd see the same when house lights were on during non-dress rehersals. Several other students experienced the same phenomena.

There was a brick hallway where students as far back as the early-1900s had signed their names with quotes from plays they'd been in. It was a genuine piece of history and, not to be forgotten, I signed mine too. But if I stood for any length of time to read the other signatures, I'd always feel someone standing behind me. It would become so uncomfortable, I'd have to leave. Again, I found out later I wasn't the only person who'd experienced this.

The school has gone through many changes and by what I see on their website, been upgraded to a performing arts school only. Maybe some day I'll visit the school again, just to check it out. If any current students come across this blog post, leave a comment! I'd love to hear if the ghost/s stuck around. 

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