No ghouls at the theatre school

In Arts & Life /

By Susana Gómez Báez

Two years ago, Daniella Mickelson was sent to the costuming room located in the basement of the Ryerson Theatre School for a wardrobe call.

It was the evening after Halloween and the then first-year theatre student was putting back costumes that had been borrowed.

As Mickelson folded clothes, there was a noise. At first, it sounded like it was coming from the pipes. But then, she said it felt like someone was moving the garments in one of the corners of the room.

“I looked and there was no one there,” Mickelson said. “There was one other girl on call with me. She heard them too.”

The room had been empty when they came in. Mickelson stood still, not moving for a couple of minutes.

But she couldn’t leave.

“I had to finish my production call.”

The Theatre School, located at 44/46 Gerrard St. E., is believed to be haunted. Before Ryerson acquired the building in 1966, it was home to the Ontario College of Pharmacy for almost 80 years.

Legend has it that medicine students used to store cadavers and perform autopsies on the third floor.

There have been reports of the piano in the student lounge (commonly known as the Green Room) playing itself, names being called out in empty hallways, ghost sightings, and some even getting the chills in certain parts of the building.

“When you are there late at night to work on an assignment…it’s just creepy to be alone,” Mickelson said.

So as an experiment, I took on the challenge and spent a night in the building.

I camped out in the Green Room with Charles Vanegas, The Eyeopener‘s sports editor, and waited until it was 2:30 a.m. to take a walk around.

We took the stairs up to the third floor and the only sound was the click-clack of my shoes, which reminded me that even the keeners who usually work late had gone home.

We turned in to the hallway on the third floor that I had been advised to avoid and then went down to the basement, but it was locked.

We went back upstairs and took a quiet peek into the locker room. It was there that I lost track of Charles.

For the next five minutes I wandered around the building talking to myself frantically, sure that I was going to die.

I tiptoed up the stairs, planning to hide in the Green Room until Charles decided to show up. And then, suddenly, when my nerves were about to give, he jumped out from behind a corner and scared me half to death.

But I honestly wonder why I was ever afraid in the first place.

Yes, I had heard the pipes squeak, the floors creak, and unsettling noises coming from the fridge in the Green Room. But nothing really happened.

Haunted places are a lot scarier because people are told time and time again to be scared of them. And as it turns out, the squeaks were mice, the floors creaks because the building is old, and the fridge was just loudly turning on and off.

Most people figure that there must be a reason why in 2008 the theatre school was formally investigated by the Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society.

But I don’t believe in the supernatural and, as my experience that night proves, there is nothing scary about the theatre school except for Charles. But in the end, I know I wouldn’t stay there overnight alone.

Just in case.

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