Dwight Watson: 2010 LaFollette Lecture  

Professor Leslie Day smiles as President Pat White congratulates Professor Watson on his lecture.

"Ghosts are not all together absent in the theater. Those of us who render play scripts and dramatic action for the stage often traffic with the supernatural and embrace the paranormal. It is widely known that we have a well-established relationship with irrationality, phantoms and apparitions, the incredulous, and all things out of the ordinary.

"After all, we celebrated with Dionysus and Bacchus; reveled behind tribal and ceremonial masks; danced until we laughed with Saint Vitus; we fabricated visually captivating hellmouths for our pageant wagons; and we helped daggers float and banquets disappear while we gave voice and movement to the ghosts of Banquo, Caesar, and to Hamlet’s father. And when the physical stage ghost no longer intrigued, we toured in dramas about heredity and the “sins of our fathers,” and then found ourselves in the company of alienated, ghostly characters such as Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

"And, now, when the work day in the theater is done, we demonstrate our respect of the supernatural by leaving a “ghost light” on the stage so that spirits may negotiate the playhouse safely in our absence."

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