By Dulcie C. Gilmore
Anyone who has sat, alone, in the ghost light of the Auditorium Theatre knows it has a strong persona. Once the crowds have left and the actors have retired for the evening, the theatre itself invites those from the past to come from the shadows. But what lurks there from the ancient past, from the ground itself?
Many sightings of Native Americans occurred in 1987. One was particularly strong. A large group took an architectural tour of the theatre on a chilly day in October. At the end of the tour, we paused for questions. One lady asked what production was in rehearsal. I thought it an odd question, as the stage was bare. I replied that we were dark at the time. She, along with several other guests, asked why the person in Native American costume was on stage. Many of them saw him cross from stage left to stage right. The chief was wearing a war bonnet headdress . . . the feathers were huge.
We decided to have the theatre “cleansed”. My assistant (who was keenly interested in these matters) found a woman to perform the task. She spoke to the spirits in a strange tongue that I did not understand. We learned that the Auditorium was built on the site of a battle at which a young Indian chief and his princess were killed. The cleanser came back with sage, cedar and sweet grass. During the smudging, she spoke to the Indian spirits and encouraged them to leave. Negative energy rose with the smoke and left the theatre clarified and pure.
Dulcie C. Gilmore was executive director of the Auditorium Theatre from 1987 to 1997. During her tenure, the theatre hosted Les Miserables (the first long run in the theatre’s history), and the openings of the first national companies of The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Show Boat.