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Ghostlight Project promotes inclusion and the arts

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A small crowd of people holding candles, flashlights and lists of quotes gathered on the steps of Kantner Hall on Thursday evening as part of a project aimed at promoting artistic expression.

This event, put on by the Division of Theater and Tantrum Theater, was just one of over 500 theater-affiliated programs across the country that participated in the Ghostlight Project. The event was held at 5:30 p.m. outside theaters “to create a ‘light’ for dark times ahead and to make, or renew, a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation and compassion for everyone,” according to the project’s website.

Natasha Smith, a graduate student studying playwriting, organized the event after several faculty members in the College of Fine Arts heard about the Ghostlight Project and suggested she get involved.

“For me, it was nice to have something to do this week to create community and to remember that we all have a role to play,” Smith said. “I think that (art) has an inherent value, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that it really can have an impact beyond just our own community. So this just seemed like a good moment to kind of collectively remind ourselves what our power is.”

Participants passed around and took turns reading from a list of quotes by famous authors, playwrights and speakers, all the while holding small sources of light that supplemented a nearby ghostlight — a light that is left on in theater that would otherwise be completely dark.

“The idea was for everyone to turn on a light at the same time, and then the ghostlight represents a light that will stay on in the theater so it’s always a place that people can come to,” Smith said.

Before and after the event began, those in attendance were invited to fill out papers with the phrases “I am _____” and “I fight for _____” printed on them. They were encouraged to take photos with these papers and to post them on social media with the hashtags #GhostlightProject, #BeALight and #AllAreWelcome.

“We want to make theater a space that everyone in our community can come to as a safe space,” Smith said. “It’s not standing for any political party or ideology, it’s just this is where everyone is respected, everyone is welcome.”

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