San José Shines a Light at Hammer Theatre

San José Shines a Light at Hammer Theatre 

On January 19, over 150 students, faculty, SJSU employees, and community members met in the Hammer Theatre to participate in the Ghostlight Project, a nationwide gathering in theaters, universities, and community centers designed to create “light” in the uncertain times that lie ahead. Joined in spirit with a gathering at the San José Stage Company a few blocks away, the Hammer Ghostlight event was one of dozens across the Bay Area that brought residents together to support the values of inclusion, justice, and equity. 

The Ghostlight Project draws inspiration from a tradition of theaters leaving a “ghost light” on when they go dark. By participating in the lighting ceremony at the Hammer, participants pledged “to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone—regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”  

Dean Lisa Vollendorf and Theatre Arts Professor Buddy Butler welcomed the crowd from a staircase in the Hammer lobby before turning on the Ghostlight. The single bulb was filtered through colored glass bulbs and reflected by a rotating disco ball. The Hammer foyer was alive with color as Dean Vollendorf roamed the audience, mic in hand, soliciting audience members’ statements about who they are and what they believe.  

Signs printed for the event read “I am ______, I fight for ______”, leaving blank spaces for participants to fill out and announce. “I am a teacher, a mother, and a woman,” said one attendee, “and I fight for our children.” “I am hanging on to hope,” said another participant, “and I fight for a world that has room for all of us.” These signs are now displayed in the Hammer Theatre windows facing the Paseo de San Antonio, testifying to the diverse perspectives and shared hopes of Ghostlight participants.  

Says Dean Vollendorf, “SJSU is committed to serving a diverse student body and the diverse communities that contribute to the cultural richness of our city and our region. The Ghostlight Project afforded us an opportunity to express our core values—diversity, inclusion, and compassion. I was thrilled to see so many students, faculty, staff, San José Stage patrons, and other community members at the event.” 

To learn more about the national event, please visit the website of the Ghostlight Project

See SJSU’s involvement with the Ghostlight Project here.