There was one audience member in the Theater Royal in Britain who had no ticket when Patrick Stewart spotted him during a lively performance of Samual Becket’s ‘Waiting for Godot,’ and likely also no pulse. Though any thespian in the arts has had the experience of putting on a show in front of a dead audience, the concept was quite literal thanks to this singular paranormal patron. Stewart, is usually best known from Star Trek fame as the clever captain Jean Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise or from the X-Men series as the brilliant prognosticator Professor Xavier. Stewart has acted prolifically since the 60’s in the Royal Stage company making him a seasoned actor both on camera and on stage.
So when he suddenly paused during the first act for even a second while performing across from Sir Ian McKellen, it must have been something quite significant. Sir Ian knew it must have been fairly serious. He asked Stewart upon coming off-stage, “What happened, what threw you?” Stewart replied, “I just saw a ghost. On stage, during Act One.” The apparition had appeared in the wings just within Mr. Stewart’s line of sight.
Stage hands, who have been working at the theater for years relate the tale of John Baldwin Buckstone, friend to Charles Dickens, and acting manager of the Theatre Royal Haymarket who they say has been haunting the theater since the mid 19th century. Buckstone was first a comic actor, but would go on to become a playwright and finally the actor-manager, putting on over 200 productions until he left the company in 1877. During this time the house became a revered and well-respected in comical art circles. He finally left the company in 1877, and passed on two years later. But some say he still haunts the theater sporadically even now. Of course his appearances are not commonplace. To the contrary, “The last time an actor saw him would have been I think Fiona Fullerton, playing in an Oscar Wilde, 10 or 12 years ago,” that coming from Mr. Nigel Everett, director of the theater, “Patrick told us all about it. He was stunned. I would not say frightened, but I would say impressed.” He went on to reveal that Mr. Buckstone typically only appears when comedies are playing, enjoying the comic atmosphere and mirth associated with such classics as “Lysistrata” and “The Birds.” And while “Waiting for Godot” is not typically considered to be a comedy, the production with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen was reported to have comedic interpretations of certain aspects.
Of course celebrities seeing ghosts is nothing unusual or new. Belgian star of “Timecop,” Jean Claude Van Damme saw a ghost in his bathroom mirror while brushing his teeth, “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Dune” star Sting reportedly lived in a haunted house where sightings were commonplace, Ex Beatle, Paul McCartney says that he sensed the playful spirit of John Lennon while recording Lennon’s song “Free as a Bird” in 1995, along with several others.
It’s refreshing to know of an actor who is so willing to share his paranormal experiences, as many have kept theirs under wraps. We need celebrities to be as open as possible with their ghost stories to give the paranormal field much deserved credibility. Much thanks to Patrick Stewart for having the courage to ‘make it so.’