Para-Norman Activity at The Factory Theatre

We’ve probably at least been told one ghost story that we remember. Maybe we even have our own fiction ghost story to tell. Perhaps we even have our own story of a real ghost encounter. Whatever it is and whether we believe in it or not, we all can agree there’s something creepily fascinating about the after life. There’s also something historically creepy about the stories.

Legend has it every theatre has a ghost. The Factory Theatre here at Greenville University is said to have its own ghost named Norman. Norman has some pretty chilling stories to be told that will leave you spooked.

The Factory Theatre’s Ghost Light. Photo: Di’Mond Salmond

Most every theatre has a single light that is left on when everyone else goes home which is called a ghost light. The practical use of a ghost light is mainly for safety, so no one trips down the aisles, on set pieces, or into the orchestra pit. Besides the practical use of it, there are plenty of superstitions that have been said the use of a ghost light is for. Some superstitions hold that the ghost light is left on to keep the ghosts of previous actors, or workers of the building away so they don’t get rowdy while everyone else is away. Another superstition, however, is the ghost light is left on to satisfy the ghosts, letting them have the opportunity to put on a show, which prevents them from cursing or sabotaging the sets or production. At the Factory Theatre, we almost never leave the ghost light on…so where and what does Norman do when he’s all alone in the dark?

Costume Shop at The Factory Theatre. Photo: Di’Mond Salmond

The theatre members claim Norman lives in a blinking light bulb above the concession stand. Courtney Bailey Parker, an English Professor and a part of the Factory Theatre, told a Norman story that will make the hair on your arms stand straight up. Parker was in the theatre one-day alone searching for a costume piece. She said she was looking through the costumes and in the room over she heard the table saw turned on. Freezing, Parker said she heard the saw roaring and immediately grabbed her things and stormed out of the theatre as quickly as possible. How threatening the thought of being in a building alone and a saw running in the room next to you!

The walls in the theatre don’t connect to the ceiling, so even though there are separate rooms you feel like you’re in one huge room. All the way at the back of the set room you can hear someone whisper from the entrance of the building. Some people have claimed to hear whistling in the theatre, creaking, and our previous theatre manager has even heard the clicking of heels walking on the hardwood!

Photo: Di’Mond Salmond

Walking into a pitch-black open room that drops 15 degrees, with 20 feet high curtains, 300 empty chairs, and an empty stage is not exactly the most comforting feeling. You almost feel drowned out and so very small in a stage world that seems so big. The costume shop does not get much better. So many dresses, blazers, shoes, hats, wigs, mannequins occupy the space, it’s almost impossible to feel as if you’re alone. It’s like when you turn your back everything behind you comes alive until you turn back around and it all freezes again.

All the creepy ghost stories might scare you away from the theatre, but don’t be alarmed the ghosts are happy when they see a show being put on. As far as the Factory Theatre goes Chris Borwick said, “I killed Norman. He lived in the light bulb, but I got the light bulb to stop flickering and murdered him.” Whether that means Norman no longer wears heels while whistling down the halls or whether now he’s out for revenge…I guess we will have to wait and see.

Media by Di’Mond Salmond. 


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