Sunday, February 11, 2018

CATS and our middle school


there is moment when a piece of a play
early on comes together for a bit,
and the wholeness of what is coming into being
coalesces just enough to pull a tear into my eye,

then there is evidence for my faith
in the middle schoolers and our vision,
in how the best within can assert itself,
despite the chaos of impulse and self-doubt,
the part within that says to run,
to disparage, to not risk,
to settle for the comfortably common,

it takes chutzvah to belt it out,
to give all you have,
and hope you don’t fall while you reach so high,

I leap my imagination back billions of years ago,
when life somehow self-organized,
random sorting somehow found volition,
life came into being,

on the stage this week, I felt the upcoming show
start to reveal the imminence of its coming,

as if I looked to the east,
a red smoldering flared at me,
a touch of the power that can be, that will be,
when each individual releases who each can be,
and connection upon connection then releases
the potential of the whole to dawn upon the day.

January 26, ‘18

to swallow the audience

our first full run-through of the musical,
a full dress-rehearsal of CATS
with all the lines,
with all the songs,
with all the choreography,
with all the special effects,
costumes carefully designed and implemented
to meld person with character,
individual with ensemble,
to help the actor remember the transformation of play:
when I ask actor upon actor about the costuming,
each is reverential about how well cloth and do-dad
are perfect for helping inner possibility manifest as cat,
the make-up is not so obvious to the actor,
for costume changes how one feels,
make-up changes how one looks, to others,
and it takes more time to realize that power,

the set elaborately creates a world for the characters,
within which to release voice and face, movement and will,
to create reality and story so as to hold the audience
with the truth of a coherent, engaging world,
to swallow the audience,

the steps to get to performance are like a magic spell,
I wonder which of our contributions is the “eye of newt,”

time after time today I watched individual after individual soar,
take the stage, own it, pull us into it,
undo me with the purity of the beauty
they live with their moments,

as is my wont, I tear my attention away from the singer
to see how the supporting cast is doing in support of the story,
many have found how to believe, and help us believe,
adding their parts to the whole,
so that the bubble of belief swells,

I love one student actor, so into the work, that he says:
“I’m not going to be myself ever again!”

I contend that to be another
actually can help one to find and enlarge one’s self.

February 5, ‘18

the way in becomes the way out: CATS

what is at the heart of what we want to be as a school?

we want to be a place of doors upon doors
through which anyone in the community can pass
and find themselves in a place that feels right,
that allows them, that demands them,
to realize the gifts of potential within,
gifts to release, to develop, to express,

the way in becomes the way out,
first, to be unique, a world unto one’s self,
second, to be a part, to be a piece in a larger whole,
both at the same time,

this all comes to me as we present our musical CATS
to an audience for the first time,
in our production, individual upon individual steps forward,
and stars in voice, in movement, in assertion of self,
time after time my tears will not be denied,
and I could sob as I see the self realize itself
as a force worth sharing, and appreciating,
worth the leap of faith to belt it out,
worth the hope that the audience will leap back
and join, and thus honor and appreciate the risking,

behind each of those who venture forth, 
an ensemble supports them
with rippling action, 
with musical accompaniment,
with the revelation of lights,
with the revealing of amplified voice,
with the enabling of set, of props, of costume, of make-up,
with all the support of stage manager and parent,
of director, choreographer, and audience,

how wonderful it is to have a vision, and share it,
and then to find the way to the vision evolving 
as others share it, as others change it,
as the many create a one
within which each is special, 
and the whole has a greatness
qualitatively more than the sum of its parts,

the play today again reminds me
that a school succeeds
when it has the will and ability
to see each one,
to love each one,
to find a way that each one
can somehow be the center of a multiverse,
and still somehow live a unity with the other 
that consciousness at its best hopes to hold,

on the stage, a wonder lives,
and pulls tears and laughs and applause from me,
the Greeks knew the power of the divine,
that we mortals should quake at greatness revealed,
I am in awe of how much I quake
when actors and all reach toward greatness.

by Henry H. Walker
February 10, ‘18

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