Ghost Story

From around 2005 to 2010, my theatre company, Mildred’s Umbrella Theater, used a performance space called MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER. This is not the Midtown Arts Center that is called MATCH, which is new, clean and not cheap. I don’t think it has enough of a track record yet to be haunted.

If you google Midtown Art Center, that’s the one you’ll see. It’s the only one many people know about.

No, The Midtown Arts Center we used to use was a different one. I know it’s been there a really long time, and it has been declared a historical building. It’s so historical that it’s still standing and being used for theatre, even though it is falling down in places and certain areas of it might even not be safe to be in. This Midtown Art Center definitely has character. Its also haunted as hell.

Midtown Art Center a 3414 LaBranch.

Never mind the holes in the walls that the water would get in when it rained, or the mice and other ‘pets’ that we’d see here and there. That kind of thing is easily gotten past for a needy group of young artists, and it barely phased us. However, this was the site of the two most supernatural events that ever happened to me.

Some photos from shows I directed there: DARK MATTER (2007) and A MURDER OF CROWS (2008)

So, the stage in the space had no work lights, and it had really dim house lights, so basically, if you were working in there to build or rehearse, you had to turn on the stage lights to see anything. Whoever opened up the space for the day (usually me) had to walk from the front door, all the way down a long, dark hallway, to the backstage area to turn on the breakers and the AC. Then, you had to walk all the way back to the front of the space with only the lobby lights to guide you, up a ladder and into the tech booth in the dark to turn on the stage lights. I did this every time on arrival, and I was usually alone, and it always felt like someone was watching me, but that is easily dismissed as paranoia when you’re alone in an old building.

So, this one time, I was walking from the front to the breakers, alone as usual, and once I passed a certain spot in the hallway, it was suddenly cold. Then, I heard whispering that seemed to be getting closer to me until it was right in my ear! It was like… “Sskpskgt… SEE ME!” It sounded like a child’s voice, and I felt the air in my ear like it was someone’s breath. I nearly wet myself! I ran back outside and waited for one of my actors to arrive, and then we went back in together. There was nobody in that building and no way to get out or in besides the front door, which I was guarding until the actor arrived.

Later that same month, when that show was open, another thing happened. Our set had a white cyc curtain across the back with space for actors to walk between it and the wall that was behind it. I had just turned off the AC, and everyone had left, but I could hear a couple of the actors talking outside as I was locking up. No air was moving in the space and nobody but me was in there. I went up to the booth to turn the stage lights off, and as I was about to pull down the lever, I saw the unmistakable shape of a hand run itself along that back curtain, like someone was walking through there with their hand out. I screamed and the actors came running back in and we looked all over that space and nobody was there.

I was never in there alone again, but we did perform there for a few more years after that. We’d probably have gone back there again if the people who run it would ever get back to us. However, I’m very wary of being alone in any theatre, although we’ve had 4 other regular spaces since then, and I’ve never had an experience like that anywhere else.

THE FLU SEASON, by Will Eno (directed by Matt Huff) 2010


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