Ghost Light Theatricals keeps the light on for local theatre in Ballard
By Lindsay Peyton
When the curtain closes – and everyone goes home for the night, theatres keeps a guiding light turned on.
Known as the “ghost light,” this little pulse of electricity keeps the theatre from ever being completely dark.
The practice served as the inspiration for Beth Raas-Bergquist when she co-founded Ghost Light Theatricals, a non-profit company operating in the Ballard Underground. Turning on the ghost light was one of Raas-Bergquist’s tasks in her first theatre job.
“It’s a romantic notion,” she said. “I always liked the idea of the ghost light being a beacon that keeps the idea of theatre alive.”
Since being established in 2003, the company has expanded, added members and honed its mission to create imaginative stories inspired by classical texts – that resonate with the modern world.
Now Raas-Bergquist is preparing to step down from her role as artistic director of the theatre company.
“We’re looking at what succession will look like,” she said. “It’s both scary and exciting as a small company to figure out how to change and what direction to take when the founder steps down.”
But before that happens, Raas-Bergquist is preparing for a banner final season at Ghost Light Theatricals. “It’s a big year for us,” she said. “We’re already rehearsing for our first show.”
Besides the season’s plays, Ghost Light Theatricals hosts the “Battle of the Bards” fundraiser each year. The event pits three productions against each other – and the audience decides the winner. The play with the most votes returns in the following season’s line-up.
The company is seeking submissions now for the next battle, which is held in February. Ghost Light also hosts Happy Hour productions on off nights – and after main shows. Online donations help keep the theatre afloat, Raas-Bergquist said.
“We’re still the only live theatre in Ballard,” she said. “Space to make theatre and dance is really needed in Seattle. It’s vital and exciting and important for companies like us to brighten up this underground space and make local art possible.”
Ghost Light’s managing director Rob Bergquist added that the company makes theatre accessible at an affordable price.
“Where we make an impact is by doing modern interpretations of classic theatre,” he said. “And we do it at a pretty low price point.”
Tickets are usually $18 or $15 for students and seniors. As a rental venue, the company provides space for sketch comedy, improve and burlesque. “We’re really focused on racial equity, diversity and empowering groups that are traditionally marginalized,” Bergquist said. Creating and maintaining theatre space is an important task, he added.
“One of the things that are productions have in common is they’re fun and thoughtful,” he said. “We create things on a small budget that look like they’re on a big budget. And that play will transport people to a different world.”
Ghost Light also has its own in-house bar. “It’s a fun, social evening,” Bergquist said. “And on top of that you’re able to see a piece of work that you could probably only find in the Ballard Underground.”
For more information, visit http://ghostlighttheatricals.org.