Day 143 April 5, 2023 Turn Off The Lights

This story is reported from my perspective and memory. I know people have had other experiences so I am speaking just for myself. There are students that have a huge impact on their teachers but not many transcend as much as our theatre spirit. There are speculations as to who the spirit is but for myself I know who he is. It is a direct reference to a student I wrote about several years ago and was used on day 82 of this blog. Any life that is cut short is a sad loss and I really believe that their spirit lives on through the people who knew them. That leads me to the theatre. I little information for those that are not theatre people: we use a blue strip light backstage so that we can see where we are going as we set the stage and get into position. Knowing where every light source becomes critical so that it doesn’t interfere with the show. I made it a point to know every light fixture and where it was located on the light board. It was an obsession because I believe that lighting can be just as important as a character. I also learned every breaker switch that works every outlet or light source. There were times when we needed to do something extraordinary and use the breaker switches. I have such an obsession that I know all of the electrical boxes and overrides in the theatre and much of the rest of the building. It was important to theatre and my years as the building tech guy.

After his passing, I started to notice that one blue strip light in the back wouldn’t turn off. This was not an everyday occurrence but was more tied to my stress. The more stress I had and the more the light would stay on. When I was directing a show, I was always the last to leave after checking everything. I also had a habit of sitting in the dark after all of the lights were off to think about things or problem-solve an issue with the play. There was just enough light from the emergency exit signs to find my way out. When I was the most stressed, one lone strip of blue would stay on. I usually told the kids in the booth to shut it off. They assured me it was and that there was no power to the board. The first few times I tried to find the source. I could never find it. In the booth, backstage, or on the electrical panel. I would turn off the electrical panel breakers and everything around this light would shut off. I tried for several years and never found it. When I discovered that it happened to other staff members I stopped worrying.

The most interesting thing was that I come in the next morning to check and it was off. I asked the custodial staff and they hadn’t even been in the theatre. It slowly dawned on me that it was this young man who passed away. It became comforting to me when I would sit in the dark and try to figure things out. I never felt that I was alone and that he was sitting with me and helping to work through things. As I would leave I just said out loud, Hunter, (not his real name) don’t forget to turn off the lights. When I came in the next morning they were always off. I sometimes miss my time with him and talking through things but I do know he will always be a part of me and I can take comfort in that.