CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Countless stories of heartbreak, tragedy and death have taken the stage at the Woolfe Street Playhouse. But over the last 8 years, the stories that happened behind the scenes may be the most chilling.
Keely Enright is the owner and director of the Village Repertory Company. She says many unexplained events have happened since they moved into the playhouse in 2012.
“It was a haunted show so it was rigged for things. But when all was said and done, all the weird things that were happening didn’t have anything to do with the theatre magic,” she says.
Enright vividly remembers when the company performed the play The Woman in Black. One of their props, a real photo of a deceased infant from the Victorian era.
Kyle Downs has acted in multiple plays at the Woolfe Street Playhouse. He says one of the strangest occurrences were the technical difficulties.
“He was up there hanging and things don’t fall, I mean, there’s no wind back here. One time we came in and he was hung up and had fallen…I kid you not right here,” she says, gesturing to the other side of the room.
“We had this speaker that was popping during rehearsal so we would say ‘unplug it, unplug the speaker’ so we unplugged the speaker. And then the speaker pops again!” says Downs.
The building itself is nearly a century old with an interesting backstory. It was used as a meatpacking warehouse by The Meddin Brothers for decades.
Stretching over 14,000 square feet, the building still has some of the original equipment from the early 1900s. Many people in the Village Repertory Co. agree that one of it’s rooms is creepier than the rest.
“Just the vibes in that room were very unsettling. You’d walk by it and feel like you want to go faster and your hair would stand up,” says Downs.
Enright says sometimes when she goes inside the room it feels as if “you’re walking through jello.”
The question is, could spirits be causing these strange events? Or is it just imaginations running wild? Some may believe it’s a combination of the two.
“Theatres are very superstitious in general. I mean, there’s all kinds of rituals surrounding like having a good performance, making sure you don’t do anything wrong and the break a leg thing,” says Downs.
Downs explained that a longstanding tradition within the theatre is to keep a “ghost light” lit on the stage after the performance is over.
“The ghost light is when you leave the theatre and the shows over — everyone’s gone — you’re supposed to leave 1 light on. Either pointing at the stage or a bare bulb on the stage so the ghosts can do their performances,” he says.
The Village Repertory Company’s time performing in the Woolfe Street Playhouse has come to a bittersweet end. Enright says over the last few weeks as they’ve started moving out, “the spirits” have been acting up more than usual.
“Eventually whoever our spirit was got used to us and I think they’re unhappy that we’re leaving and causing all this disruption,” she says.
As they close this chapter and say their final goodbyes to the beloved playhouse, perhaps the stage won’t be empty after all…