It’s been ten months and one day since the Knights Theater Company gathered in the 900 seat auditorium for what would be the only performance of “A Chorus Line”—a rough draft-turned dress rehearsal, with some incomplete costumes, a few absent students, and a soundtrack instead of an orchestra. If you were a parent, sibling, or friend lucky enough to be in the audience that day, it would prove to be an event we wouldn’t easily forget.
It’s hard to put into words how much has happened in that time. How much the world has changed. How much we have changed.
We’ve spent a lot of time problem solving, “thinking outside of the box,” and figuring out new ways to connect, to stay connected, to keep connecting.
In some ways, I feel we’ve learned some essential truths about ourselves. The obvious one is that most of us don’t like change, especially when it disrupts the routines we’ve come to rely on.
The next is that we can adapt. We might not like it, like a sock that’s put on with the heel not matched up quite right. It’s uncomfortable, but you may have to admit that it still covers your foot and keeps it warm.
Today I witnessed change and adaptation at its very best. Today those theater kids gathered again in that huge auditorium (distanced and with masks of course) for the first time in ten months and one day. They were there to view their very first “movie premiere,” a project they’d worked on separately, yet collaboratively, since September.
They were a team, some of them meeting for the very first time.
“Let’s Go to the Movies” is a collection of favorite scenes (chosen by the kids) from TV shows and movies. The students worked in small groups to write scripts, rehearse scenes, block, direct, videotape and edit. Students and staff were both directors and videographers. The result is nothing short of amazing. This production truly shows what can be safely done during this pandemic, but it is brilliant evidence of what a dedicated, motivated, and passionate group of people who love the performing arts can do when they put their minds together.
At every point in this production, and for each group, the questions always were “How can we do this safely?” and “What do we need to change to do this safely for everyone?”
What I witnessed made me cry. And I forgot tissues. I cry a lot lately. Anyone else?
It is beyond tiresome to hear, and to have to say, constantly to my 12th and 7th grader, “No we can’t do that.” “Sorry we can’t do that either.” “Someday. But not right now.” The very best of my patience has been tested, and my “IT”S FINE” and “Keep it together” face has been stretched so thin.
“Not right now” has lasted ten months and one day. And it will last for longer.
But today… today I was in a place where the mood and the energy was positive and upbeat, and the words were “But look what we CAN DO.”
We can do this.
We can set up a movie premiere night, where the actors get to come to an event just for them, to dress up and walk on a red carpet and feel special and have their photo taken. We can make a night where the attention is all on them. We can honor the graduating seniors, the newcomers, and the veteran club members with encouraging words, spreading sunshine in January. We can all put the worries of the world away for just a little while. We can play loud music and dance in our seats, and show them the love that is always there, even if we let it get buried under other things sometimes. We can give them this gift.
And we needed this. The kids needed this. The staff needed this. I looked around that huge space, the students and the staff all spaced apart, all masked, and thought…. Wow, how lucky we are.
After the viewing, the club advisors pulled out the Clorox wipes and passed the microphone around to anyone who wanted to share their thoughts. And I cried again. The kids were so proud of each other, so happy to be part of such a special project, part of such a special group. This was (finally!) a chance to share their love of performing with each other and well, everyone. They were gracious while being proud, excited and yet somehow humbled when they saw their piece in the larger project. They knew they’d worked hard, and they knew they’d loved doing it…
But here, in front of them, on this giant 20 foot screen, is the proof of their love and hard work, the proof of what they CAN DO.
This day was a gift in so many ways. I could see beyond the masks: there were smiles in their eyes and in the way they stood. And I thought, you guys… you guys are magic. You are some kind of wonderful.
The gift is watching you share your joy with your team, even if six feet apart. The gift is hearing your school administrators applaud you and say “WOW! You did THIS!” The gift is “finding your voice” and taking risks, trying something completely out of your comfort zone. The gift is recognizing how you come out on the other side of it. The gift is knowing you have people who believe in you, even when you’re unsure of yourself. The gift is hearing someone say, You Can Do This. We need more of that.
Thank you, KTC students and staff for the gift of witnessing your resilience, your passion, your joy. You’ve given me sunshine for my soul, and smiles that I will carry with me for a very long time.
(Use this link to see “Let’s Go to the Movies” )