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New and improved Ghost Walk auditions open
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Brenau University's Pearce Auditorium is a 700-seat, 19th century opera house dedicated on May 21, 1897, as “the largest of its kind in the South.” - photo by Scott Rogers

Megan Cowgill put on her best mid-century garb and acted like a “crabby school teacher” last year and now, you can, too, by landing an acting gig at Northeast Georgia History Center’s annual Ghost Walk.

“Anybody who’s interested, I definitely encourage them to audition,” Cowgill said. “It’s a great experience.”

Auditions for paid and unpaid roles for the event are Oct. 11. Those interested in theater or the performing arts is encouraged to audition. Paid jobs go to the ghosts with speaking roles while unpaid jobs are for walk guides and even some wandering ghosts throughout the Hall County Courthouse.

The walk explores the county’s haunted past and is set for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 26 and 27. The event starts at the history center, and groups take a bus to the courthouse to begin the tour featuring Hall ghosts and history.

Tickets for members of the history center cost $10 while non-member tickets cost $12. Groups of up to 18 people are allowed at a time.

“We take all these stories that have been collected over the years and present them to the public by having actors portray these figures,” said Libba Beaucham, media producer at the history center. “It’s a very fun experience and we want to take it a little spookier this year, but no one has to be afraid. It’s going to be a really fun family experience.”

The way she plans to make it scarier than before is pretty simple: She’s turning the lights off. She said the courthouse already has “a beautiful” and “spooky atmosphere, when the lights are off, especially.” Being indoors enables her to dream up scarier options than any other year, too.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for fun little twists and turns along the way,” Beaucham said. “There will be some audio and visual fun. You can imagine it being more like a haunted house in a way.”

As groups begin their tour, they will stop in rooms throughout the courthouse to visit with and learn about characters like George “Corn” Tassel, a Cherokee man convicted of murder and hanged in the square during the mid-1830s.

Agnes, who some say haunts Brenau University’s Pearce Auditorium, will likely make an appearance. There are quite a few stories of Agnes’ life and why she now haunts the auditorium, but few ghosts around Gainesville are as fixed in the local imagination as spectre in Pearce..

Then there’s the lady of the library, who Beaucham said is a Victorian woman who has “apparently gotten into some pretty mischievous activities, like answering the phone.”

Beaucham plans on creating some characters to help share a little more of the history of the area, too.

“Rather than just have ghosts that people have witnessed, we can create our own ghosts of the past such as a Dahlonega gold miner that’s in Gainesville because there was a Gainesville mint here,” Beaucham said. “We can take stories from the past and create our own ghosts so people can experience the history of Gainesville for themselves.”

There are many other stories the event has featured over the years -- the ladies of the lake, the 1903 mill disaster and Dr. Hilbert Tingley. Beaucham doesn’t know which will be a part of the walk this year. She said she has to wait until she sees what kind of talent comes out for the auditions.

“We always want to connect with local performers,” Beaucham said. “Not only for our Ghost Walk, but so they can show us their acting skills in case we need actors for another event.”

Cowgill, a friend of Beaucham’s, said playing a school teacher was a little more difficult than she thought it would be, but she had fun improvising when unexpected things happened.

“When people had smartphones, they’d try to pull them out and look up the answer,” Cowgill said. “I called them glowing devil squares, so that was pretty fun.”

She said she enjoys interacting with people and audiences, so getting to do that through a Ghost Walk made it all the more exciting. She was nervous, but said after the first group made its way by, she was ready for the rest.

“Some groups are more tame than others, but it’s fun finding out how different people can be and how different people react to the same kind of things,” Cowgill said.

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