The Dramatic Haunting of Bill Will Hall


When Rebekah Howell came close to falling off the stage last year, it was not simply a moment of inelegance. It had more to do with the supernatural.

“There was no correcting there. I was going to fall,” said Howell, a junior in the Advanced Theatre class. Howell has had many personal encounters with the auditorium’s ghosts, most notable of which was when one of them pushed her off of the lip of the stage.

“I was standing there, and I was being mouthy about them being there, and I think I was yelling,” Howell said. “I was talking to my girlfriend about it, and she was like, ‘something’s going to happen, because you’re being mouthy and they don’t like it when you’re mouthy.’ And one of them just pushed — and then something pushed me back up. I don’t know if it was the same one or if it was a different one, but I didn’t fall off the stage, so that’s what matters.”

The favorite haunt of the C. M. Russell Drama Department is, without a doubt, Bill Williamson Hall. The horde of teenagers, whether actors, singers, or instrumentalists, has not seemed to discourage the presence of several ghosts in the auditorium.

Howell is not the only drama student to have experiences with the theater ghosts. Tales of props and personal belongings that move or vanish mysteriously, sudden loud noises or laughter echoing through the empty seats, and misty handprints on the glass in the sound and light booths are the long legacy of the ghosts of Bill Will Hall. Some students have seen shadowy figures moving backstage or along the ceiling. Howell said that her grandmother, who graduated from CMR about 40 years ago, heard similar rumors about the theater ghosts.

Even students who have never had visual, auditory, or physical contact with the theater ghosts have ideas about their temperaments and identities. Senior Matt Bronson, also in the advanced class, said that he feels sure that the ghosts are not out to cause harm.

“[I know he’s friendly] because of the fact that I’ve been in here alone, by myself, working a monologue and I can feel that there’s another presence there, but I feel that it’s not there to harm me,” Bronson said. “You have a heightened sense of the Other. Like, you feel somebody else is there. Like you feel like your personal bubble is kind of being invaded.”

Bronson, however, does not have a personal theory about who the theater ghost might be.

“A lot of people have been telling me different things. I’m not 100 percent sure who the ghost is,” he said.

Howell, however, had a few different ideas on the subject.

“I think about three. Because, sometimes, if you’re in there by yourself, you’ll hear like, a little girl laughing. And then the one that pushed me off the stage, and then the one that pushed me back on the stage. One of them is kind of rude, but if you don’t bug him, he doesn’t bug you,” Howell said. “I think you have, like, the cranky old man who’s like ‘get off my lawn!’ but he’s more like ‘get out of my theatre!’ And then you have one who’s maybe around our age, who’s like ‘oh, you guys are cool, you’re not messing with anything.’ Then I think there’s a little girl who’s maybe five or six, who just needs somewhere to stay that feels safe, where she’s not going to be hurt any more than she probably has.”


When senior Hannah Ragland heard the scream, she knew she was not alone.

It was October 2013, and Ragland, the assistant director for CMR’s production of “The Foreigner,” was taking a nap on stage between classes.

“I was laying down on the couch on the stage,” Ragland said. “I heard somebody scream my name.”

She said it wasn’t a scream of danger but a scream that said ‘you are going to be late for class.’

It was not the first time Ragland has had otherworldly experiences in Bill Will Hall, however. When she first heard of the spirit, she was in middle school, and she first encountered the spirit when she was alone in the theater.

“We were on the stage and I was walking to the drama room and I saw somebody walking back and forth through the window of the sound booth,” she said, adding that she and Mrs. Evans went o the sound booth to check it out. No one was there.

Ragland, a senior who is finishing her fourth year at CMR, she said has an idea on who the spirit is.

“I know there are rumors that it might be a janitor, [but] I’m certain it is Devin Spriggs,” she said. “He spent most of his spare time there.”

Spriggs, a theater student who graduated in 2010, died shortly after graduation.

As for the spirit’s temperament, Ragland said it means no harm.

“Its very kind and represents the drama kids,” she said. “The ghost isn’t going to contact you if you are seeking something.”