By Claire Greising
Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw, an inventive adaptation of Henry James’ gothic ghost story, is usually coming to BAM through Dec 12—15. This specific tells the story of a young governess who has become convinced that will there are evil ghosts lurking within the remote estate where she cares For 2 children. In a spectacular marriage of past as well as also present, The Builders Association’s brand-new production combines the classic narrative with modern technology as well as also experimental theater practices. Told through the perspective of the governess, the production points out the relativity of truth—leaving the audience to decide if the governess is usually insane or if the ghosts are real.
|Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw premiere at Krannert Center earlier This specific year. Photo courtesy of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.|
the globe of theater is usually rife with superstitions, through actors’ refusal to say “Great luck” before a show to the utilization of ghost lights (the lanterns that will bring brightness to the stage after hours to ensure spirits can’t haunt the theater). as well as also perhaps these practices aren’t unwarranted—hardly any theater is usually without its tales of ghostly sightings as well as also happenstances.
BAM’s campus seems like prime breeding grounds for supernatural activity. Operational since the early 1900’s, the Opera House has staged many spooky productions, through 1990’s critically acclaimed Ninagawa Macbeth to the more light-hearted (yet still corpse-ridden) 2014 production of Robert Wilson’s The Old Woman, as well as also everything in between. Furthermore, the BAM Harvey Theater was abandoned for nearly two decades as well as also had fallen into serious disrepair before being rehabilitated by former BAM President as well as also Executive Producer Harvey Lichtenstein in 1987.
|Director Yukio Ninagawa’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth within the Fall of 1990. Photo courtesy BAM Hamm Archives.|
However, BAM is usually seemingly devoid of the ghostly tales as well as also myths you might expect to find in an institution with its history. In fact, among the stagehands, BAM is usually known as the least haunted performing arts institution within the globe. Louie Fleck, the BAM Hamm Archives Manger who is usually seen as the go-to source for theater lore as well as also unusual facts, admits that will he is usually approached for BAM ghost stories around Halloween every year. He admits, “I never seem to have a great answer.”
Even so, I made This specific my personal mission to find the ghosts haunting the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s stages as well as also facilities.
Through my search, I found that will BAM isn’t without its creepy stories as well as also urban legends. For example, years ago, stagehands were cleaning the ducts within the Harvey Theater when they found a curious specimen. After some investigation, the object was revealed to be an embalmed monkey carcass. “I said, ‘There’s no way you found a monkey,’” remembers Head Electrician John Manderbach. “Then I looked, as well as also This specific was like, ‘Yup. that will’s a monkey.’” Manderbach notes that will This specific isn’t genuinely a ghost story, however spooky nonetheless.
|The Harvey Theater, then known as the Majestic Theater, undergoing renovation in 1987. Photo courtesy BAM Hamm Archives.|
My quest ultimately led me to the Theater Management Office, a tiny, low-ceilinged space connected to the Opera House stage. Inside, Head Usher Jackie David shared that will she’d never personally seen a ghost during her 26 years at BAM, however she had been told a fair number of stories about them by ushers as well as also patrons of the theater over time. While working the coat check, she was approached by a man who had an unusual experience while attending a show at BAM the week before. She explains, “He saw a man in a tuxedo—one of the older, 1800’s tuxedos—as well as also he was standing there dancing.” When the patron looked back after getting the attention of his friend, the man was gone. Another supernatural sighting occurred within the BAM cinemas, when a security guard approached a woman in a hat as well as also requested that will she leave, as the theater was closed. Jackie goes on, “when he turned around to get the chains to lock the doors, she’d just disappeared.”
within the end, I don’t think I was able to definitively prove or disprove the existence of ghosts. Perhaps Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw doesn’t genuinely come to a straight answer, either. However, there is usually something to be said about the connection between the supernatural as well as also the theatrical: ghost stories rely on the audience’s ability to believe within the unbelievable, just like theater often does. however also, in trying to find stories about the dead, I became even more connected to the living. My hunt sent me all over BAM, where I found myself listening to half-remembered anecdotes in hallways as well as also having conversations about monkey skeletons within the wings of the Opera House. Whether by keeping the memory of previous generations’ great artists alive through reimagining their work (as in Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw) or literally housing the lost souls of audiences past, BAM is usually certainly a space to honor the words as well as also lives of those who have come before us.
Claire Greising is usually a Production Intern at BAM.
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