HAUNTED EASTERN IOWA: Strayer-Wood Theatre - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

HAUNTED EASTERN IOWA: Strayer-Wood Theatre

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by Jenn Jarvis

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- Every theater has a ghost, and at the Strayer-Wood Theatre on the University of Northern Iowa campus, the ghost's name is Zelda.

No one knows who Zelda is, but the first record of her appears in a 1963 edition of the UNI newspaper. At the time theater students used an auditorium in Lang Hall, but they have since moved into the Strayer-Wood Theatre, and Zelda moved with them.

"When this building was built and the costumes were brought over from Lang Hall to this building that she came over with the costumes," Director of Marketing for the Strayer-Wood Theatre, Jascenna Haislet, said.

While Haislet has never had an encounter with Zelda, she's heard plenty of stories from students over the years.

"I had one student tell me he was behind some seating units waiting to go on stage in a scene and he felt the curtains moving when they shouldn't have been," Haislet said.

And in the space beneath the stage, Zelda left some other students in the dark.

"The lights turned off and no one was near the light switch and a girl walked over and turned the light back on and then it went off again," student Martha Deyoung said.

Before Deyoung ever came to UNI, her older brother who was also a theater student, told her a story about hearing piano music then looking at the instrument only to find no one was there.

A theater ghost is not unique to the UNI campus. Haislet says this type of space is perfect for haunting.

"There's so much psychic energy in theaters that how can you not end up having spirits who hang around," Haislet said.

But when the lights go out, it's not clear what's real and what's imagined.

"It can be kind of an unsettling place to be if you're along especially after dark. There's sounds, the building makes sounds. So, sometimes you just go, 'Oh, that's the wind or something shifting.' And other times you go, "Hmm. Maybe it's Zelda,'" Haislet said.


Zelda isn't the only ghost on the UNI campus. Another is Augie, a soldier that haunts Lawther Hall.

Online Reporter: Jenn Jarvis
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