Imagine working alone in an older building where, on occasion, people have seen ghosts, heard them walking around, and had them messing with their stuff.
It’s not that freaky as long as you don’t believe in ghosts.
Jenny Hamilton is the Guild’s general manager, and she’s a general skeptic. However, when she saw a ghost in the flesh, it shook her foundation.
“December of 2006 was the first time he and I crossed paths,” Hamilton says. “I had heard about the Guild ghost, and I thought, ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever. I believe in science, facts. Things that I can see.’ But that’s not my motto anymore.”
In December of 2006, on a Thursday evening at 7 p.m., she was alone in the theatre, repairing a patch on the floor.
“I heard somebody come in through the front doors, and when they came in, they stomped their feet to get the snow off,” she says. “So I turned around, and I saw this guy standing at the front doors in military gear, all done up in a dress uniform. He was fairly young. And my thought was he’s got to be one of the actor’s friends looking for them. So I called out to him and said, ‘I’ll be there in just a sec.’
“I dropped all of my tools, pulled myself up off the floor, and turned around – and he’s gone. I check out the dance studio, the lights are all off. I check the men’s room and the women’s room and the kitchen – the lights are all off. Nobody.
“So then I walk to the front door and open it up, and there is fresh snow there. Not a single foot print. So I grabbed my coat and turned off the lights and didn’t come back for two days. It just freaked me out. He looked like a solid person.”
She was now a skeptic who thinks she had seen a ghost.
“It broke all of my boundaries,” Hamilton says. “I’m a skeptic for 99 per cent of things that are supernatural. It’s just brain chemistry. If you truly believe it, there’s something wrong with you. Which is why I was so glad to hear that other people had seen and heard the ghosts, too – because it was like, ‘Do I have a brain tumour?'”
Turns out a variety of other sane people have had encounters with the military man. Hamilton recounts that in 2008, for example, choreographer Lisa Stevens was delaying a meeting in the lobby because she saw the military man walk into the men’s washroom. Stevens figured he was one of the actors and they’d better wait for him — and some of the actors sitting there had seen him, too. But only some.
But the military man is not the only ghost there. In 2009 Hamilton heard two kids chasing each other upstairs, above the old kitchen. Then she heard the kids’ mom clapping her hands and calling to them as if to wrangle them under control. It didn’t seem like too big of a deal.
“They’re not grumpy, there’s no malice – they were just playing,” Hamilton says. “My brain goes, ‘They’re playing upstairs.’ Then my brain goes, “There is no upstairs.'”
The mom and kids have a more pleasant presence in the place than the military man. With them it’s about playing.
“They don’t have the feel like, ‘You’re taking over my space, so I’m going to take over yours,'” Hamilton says. “The military guy is like that. He’ll mess with some of the actors.”
Actors’ will lose their lipstick, and it shows up at another actor’s makeup station. Lights will get turned off; the sound system will go on the fritz. Hamilton says the ghost was blamed for former artistic director Eric Epstein’s hairbrush continually going missing.
Maybe the actors are a bunch of hairbrush-borrowing-pranksters. Or maybe the absent-minded actors are always misplacing the tools of their trade.
Or maybe it’s the ghosts.
Whatever’s going on over there, Hamilton has got an understanding with the ghosts: they are forbidden from walking around in the flesh while she’s there.
“I’ve been clear with whatever’s here, that, ‘I never want to see you again and if you have to show yourself, I won’t work here anymore,'” Hamilton says.
For some reason, the ghosts have been abiding by that.
“I think they got the message,” she says. “They make noise and all that, but don’t physically walk through the building.”
Or, they don’t exist. Except that something is making an assortment of knocking, stomping and running sounds and interfering with the electrical systems.