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Student Blog: The Big Event

One year into a new world, I look bxk.

Student Blog: The Big Event

Exactly a year ago, I was assistant stage managing my first college show-Sweat. I'm sure we all remember exactly how That Week went down, from the utter denial of Monday to the teetering precipice of Thursday. Leaving for what was supposed to be spring break on that Friday, not to return for a long time.

When it was becoming apparent by our Wednesday production meeting that the show was most likely not going to go on, we threw together a single barebones performance for a meager audience of our friends and a few family members who lived nearby. It wasn't what that show deserved, but it was the best we could do.

It doesn't feel like that was a year ago. That day-unseasonably warm, emotions running high-could have been yesterday. In fact, it feels a lot like today.

I had never laid witness (let alone been a part of) a doomed show. It felt like being in the band on the Titanic. We had already hit the iceberg, the ship was about to split in two, and all we could do now was play our song like our lives depended on it. Watch our magnificent ship for as long as we could before it was submerged.

I'm sure I have developed Elton John-level rose-colored glasses for this performance. I'm sure that, had it continued as normal, had there not been a yearlong Event, I might even look back on it the way I look back on all of my other shows-fondly, but with disdain for all of the inconveniences suffered. A stage manager's loving frustration. Instead, every single scheduling difficulty and late meeting and disorganized prop cabinet and missing costume fall out of my memory. They are shadows-I know they were there, but I never meet them directly. They don't matter to me. Like every single person who had a show canceled by The Big Event, all I can think about is what could have been; the wasted potential. The magic we had.

The ensuing year presented ways to connect and adapt-methods that we would never have adopted if it weren't for The Big Event. 24-Hour Theatre Fest became All-Day Theatre Fest, facilitated by Zoom. The fall show became the fall shows, held outdoors with a significantly smaller audience. Spring is looking about the same. I haven't done improv for over 365 days. We've forgotten what it's like to hear an audience react. They're all muted, so as to not interfere with the performance. The little clapping emojis are the best we get, and we take it because it's better than a dark silence.

Still, given my inclination to spend most of my time pondering the past, I wonder if the opportunities I've been afforded this year are because of The Big Event, rather than in spite of it. Since leaving campus last March, I directed my first show. I'm stage managing now-not just assisting. A play I wrote is going to be performed by actual actors in front of an actual audience.

Would I change it? Would I rather have come through unscathed? When I came back to campus a few weeks ago, I felt as though I was a freshman all over again, re-learning how to be a college student. I forgot where the bathrooms were in the theatre. I ran away from the dining hall (more than a few times) out of anxiety. Two of my closest friends aren't here, but rather back at home, learning remotely. Was all of this worth it?

I don't know. I don't know if the normal that we knew was the best way of life. I don't know if the show would have been pulled off. I don't know if I'd be the same person that I am now-molded and consumed by The Big Event.

I do know that I'd give anything to have seen my friend perform in her final high school show-also canceled.

That I still want to see Sweat come before an audience-a packed house that will give a standing ovation.

That you can't repeat the past, no matter how hard you want to, no matter how many ways you try to bend it, no matter how many alternate realities you craft inside your head.

That this is where we were, where we are, and for the time being, where we will continue to be.

That despite all of this, despite all of our bruises and tears, we'll make it through. And I can't wait for the curtain to come back up.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Sydney Emerson