Collaboration. Tension. Patience. Frustration. Creative mess. Vulnerability.
In reflecting on today’s work, these are the words that stand out in my memory. Early this afternoon, we finally reached the culmination of our work at Rose Bruford College. We completed our final preparations in the morning- checked costumes, prepared materials for the arrival of 60 4th grade students, rehearsed our music one more time, and organized our spaces. For my part, there was a certain peace to the morning’s work which was a departure from the somewhat tenuous but incredibly creative sessions we’d had over the last few days.
At, the students arrived and were guided into our space, greeted by music and an impressive shadow puppet show designed and operated by Alfe and Michelle and narrated by Christine and Isaiah. Then, led by guides Isabel, Greta, Yulissa, Haila, Sabrina, and Lawrence, the students traveled to an array of stations designed to inspire their imaginations and engage their senses (a Texan costume shop complete with sweet tea, a picnic-potion station, a surreal bathtub in a field by the lake where students could construct the perfect bath-oil, a rhythm room, and an area for making greeting cards to cheer up a sad bug with aspirations for a life in the theater). After traveling through our imagined worlds, the students returned to the studio theater, which had been transformed into a glade of fireflies. A varied, improvised soundscape filled the room. Low light was accented with twinkling Christmas lights and members of our group flickered their phone flashlights, contributing to the magic in the space. Singers transitioned to a round about fireflies and then Isaiah moved into the center of the space surrounded by the students to bring our piece to a close.
After the performance, we got to hear questions and reflections from the students. One question stood out in particular- “what was it like having to collaborate in such a large group?” I think we’d all agree the answer to the question would be multifaceted. It was exhausting and exhilarating, tumultuous but tremendous. With so many voices, it’s hard to not experience moments of chaos. The frequencies of all those voices will necessarily amplify others at times while at other moments, they cancel each other out leaving an empty space waiting to be filled with frustration. At the end of the day, though, we were left with the realization that despite the challenges we faced, we had created something beautiful together, something memorable, and something in which we were each able to perform a vital role.