Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Ghost Light :: essays research papers
Ghost light refers to the superstition that one small bulb should always be left on so that no theater is ever totally dark--and thus vulnerable to "ghosts." A reader of Frank Rich's memoir Ghost Light is likely to conclude, however, that the title refers to the author's attempt to exorcise his miserable childhood. The son of Frank Rich Sr., whose family had been in the shoe business in Washington since the Civil War, and Helene Rich, a teacher, was born in 1949. Members of the family led seemingly ordinary lives in Somerset, Md. There, according to Rich, all the houses looked alike, dads went to work, moms stayed home and television perpetuated the myth that all families were happy. While he was in grade school, Rich's parents split up, making him the first kid on the block to bear the stigma of coming from "a broken home." Both parents subsequently remarried, and, in a telling detail, neither Rich nor his younger sister, Polly, was invited to either parent's second wedding. Rich is venomous on the subject of his stepfather--a crude and violent man with a vicious temper--but acknowledges that thanks to his affluence the family went to the theater often. The protagonist in Rich's life is his mother (described as a Judy Holliday, not physically but emotionally); her death was tragic. The driver of the car in which she was killed was Rich's much-loathed stepfather. Rich, writes freely of having been a lousy athlete, an insomniac and a loner. What pleasures he had in childhood came from theater--listening to recordings of musicals ("South Pacific," "The Most Happy Fella" and, while in bed with measles, "Peter Pan") and reenacting shows in the miniature theaters he created out of shoe boxes from his father's shop. For lighting, a desk lamp was put into service; pillowcases became curtains. He saved playbills (even ones found in trash cans for shows he had not seen), analyzed album covers and memorized lyrics. For his third-grade talent show, Rich sang "You Gotta Have Heart." Educated in public schools, where he claims classes were undemanding, Rich was blessed with teachers, librarians and friends who abetted his passion for theater, for reading and for writing. At the age of 8, he published a neighborhood bulletin that announced the arrival of babies, puppies and new cars. He also wrote a "book" titled "A World All My Own," about a boy who lived in a big box.
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