"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."
—As You Like It, Act II Scene VII
Theaters are considered to be homes of art, performance, music, and any other reason why someone would want to step in front of a crowd of people. In these spaces, there is an exchange of energy between actor and audience member, along with the energy transference of lights and sounds. Not to mention also the transplanted energy from sets, music, costumes, and props. In short, theaters are hubs of energy of different kinds, and yet, it is still a wonder as to why theaters are haunted. Some of the most remarkable performances in the history of mankind have taken place on a stage. The beautiful thing about the theater is that is doesn't even have to be a building with a proscenium stage with seats. The theater can be a patch of grass with a line between the reality of the audience and the fantasy world of the play. The theater can also be an abandoned warehouse, or even a haunted location, wherever a story can be better told.
Like shamans, actors go on a spiritual journey of exploration within the character they are portraying. After a great deal of work through rehearsal, the actor then shares their journey on the stage with an audience, who then accompany the actor on a spiritual journey of discovery and learning better about the world around us. Ironically, through exploration of the paranormal through ghost communication, we learn about the stories of the deceased and are taken on a journey of learning more about our world through the history and experiences of the dead. Both of these scenarios may seem vastly different on the surface, but in reality, the line that separates them has become blurred.
Who is the audience in spirit communication? Who is the actor?
Let us consider the Spiritualism movement, where many of the mediums from the Nineteenth Century were originally actresses. This doesn't discount their abilities, but it is interesting to consider that mediums were expected to have a certain amount of pizazz and stage presence. Through our fascination with the paranormal, even over a century ago, there was still the expectation of entertainment with communication with the deceased—otherwise people were not all that interested. Interestingly enough, as Spiritualism became more of a spectacle, it inspired some of the theater's most interesting special effects (such as Pepper's Ghost, an illusion trick using glass and reflections.)
If you think that the entertainment aspect has left modern-day ghost hunting, you are very much mistaken. Consider paranormal reality shows where the ghost hunters and the deceased are performers in front of a camera for our entertainment. As much as we want to deny the idea that the paranormal is a form of entertainment, it very much rings true. Even in private paranormal investigations where a single person or team is alone in a haunted location, there is a request for the deceased to perform in some way ("perform" meaning to make the lights go off on devices, speak into audio recorders, and move in front of a camera). It seems that when Jacques from Shakespeare's As You Like It said, "All the world's a stage…" he meant that the stage isn't just a part of the living, but also a part of the dead.
With this idea in mind that performance transcends time and space and spiritual realms, let us go back to the reason that theaters are haunted. Given that performance is already an essential part of the paranormal, it should be no surprise that a performance venue can be haunted. Plus, consider the fact that there are a lot of events going on in theaters along with being major hubs of energy. Hundreds, if not thousands (depending on the venue), of people are circulating through the doors on a daily basis, bringing in their own energies. Ghosts need energy in order to manifest and communicate. And yet, people are surprised when they hear things go bump in the night or actually see a full-body apparition. Theaters are basically like an all-you-can-eat buffet of energy, and it likely attracts a plethora of different spirits both good and bad.
Some of the typical ghost stories associated with theaters include the ghost of an actress who lost her chance to be a star, a dancer who met an untimely death, or the theater technician who will never leave his post behind the sound booth. There is always at least one variation of the ghosts mentioned, but theater hauntings can go much deeper than that. Once digging beyond the surface, it is a wonder why more paranormal investigators don't gravitate towards theaters as opposed to the condemned abandoned buildings that look terrifying, but could very well be boring inside with little to no interaction.
Ghosts can have different sorts of attachments to the theater that are unexpected. Typically, performing companies work with limited budgets, and it is less expensive to rent props and costumes as opposed to building them. Rented items tend to carry a considerable amount of energy in them because of the amount of people that have worn the costume or handled the prop. They leave a mark, so to speak. Just as different objects can be haunted, like jewelry or a piece of furniture, who is to say that this doesn't translate in the theater as well?
Finally, there are also theories when it comes to the creation of thought-forms in the paranormal world. For example, the Philip Experiment (which took place in the 1970s by a group of Canadian parapsychologists) managed to create a ghost with a backstory that was completely fabricated by the people involved. To tie this into the theater, actors spend a considerable amount of time creating their characters so that they are believable. This requires a large amount of energy. Could it be possible that the energy used in character development creates a thought-form, or otherwise known as a tulpa?
But what about actors who play characters based on actual people who once existed? There are stories and legends of actors who have tried to summon or call upon the ghost of the person they were playing to help them create a better performance. This isn't done in a disrespectful way, but instead by an actor wanting to pay proper tribute to said deceased person and tell their story properly. What if, after requesting the presence and assistance from a deceased individual, that person enjoys the environment of the theater and decides to stay?
In this case, that means that theater hauntings aren't always inhabited by ghosts who are tied to the location, but instead can be a home for transients throughout space and time. What better way to spend the afterlife than to be entertained on a regular basis and interact with hundreds of different people in a variety of ways? It certainly is more interesting that hanging out in a cemetery or an abandoned building for all of eternity.
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more…"
—Macbeth, Act V Scene V