Monday, May 16, 2011

Ecclesiastes 3:4

To everything there is a season, and the season where Dr. A and Mrs. B led the theatre department I graduated from has now passed.

When word spread that these two ladies were leaving the department, Laurel from A Little White Noise began coordinating a surprise party to celebrate their combined 29 years of teaching. In the end nearly fifty people would come by to see Dr. A and Mrs. B, either at the actual event or later in the evening as the festivities moved elsewhere.

It was strange to get to see so many old friends from that time in my life, particularly because I've moved so far afield from theatre. Unfortunately, I did not get to stay as late as I wanted to, due to the utter exhaustion I was feeling from a week of staying up until 3 am.

Admittedly one of those nights was because we went to see Thor (and I echo Sherri's high marks for that movie!). However, the rest of the week I was wrapped up in putting together a slideshow set to music. Laurel had contacted me the week before the event to put it together, and unfortunately I didn't get the message and a chance to start work until Monday, when the event was Friday. This lead to a week of late nights: collecting photos, tweaking photos, finding music, changing music, splicing things together, inserting new pictures, and eventually burning it all off.

Yes, that was the week I didn't blog anything. What tipped you off?

Still, in the end it was worth it. Everyone seemed to enjoy the slideshow, especially Dr. A and Mrs. B.

Throughout the weeks leading up to "The Festival," I found myself reflecting back on the four years I spent with them. Like many of the theatre students, I had a close relationship with them both. They each in their own ways taught me how to harness my independent streak and channel it in a useful manner. They opened my eyes to possibilities in myself that had never occurred to me before--talents and skills that would have remained dormant without their inspiration.

Most importantly, they showed me that one can be a Christian and yet still live in the world and influence the people around you. Too often Christians hide themselves away from the world, creating and performing only for other Christians. They taught me that we can use our gifts and talents out in the "real world," surrounded by all manners of people and lifestyles that "the church" would not approve of, and still bear witness and remain ourselves.

When I first went to college, I was a young Christian in pretty much every sense of the phrase. Had the Christian university I attended stressed "Christian Theater," I could easily have ended up the type of Christian Artist who looks down upon Non-Christians and abhors the sight or sound of anything potentially thought-provoking or outside of my comfort zone.

That or I'd have gone crazy and moved to a different school after a couple of  years.

Instead, I found two teachers who did not hesitate to teach us all that theatre encompasses. Sometimes, this led to them locking horns with the administration. Sometimes it meant upsetting their students by forcing them to consider ideas and lifestyles completely foreign. And sometimes it meant teaching us how to compromise so that our message could be heard, even if it wasn't as overt as originally intended.

While it's true that I've left theatre behind in the sense that I sincerely doubt I will ever design, direct, or run a show again, these are all lessons that I apply each and every day to living. I'm able to acknowledge and contemplate ideas without rejecting them out of hand. It influences my writing, conversations, and debate styles. And all of those skills that they developed and honed in me--organization, design, communication, construction, sewing, drawing, analysis--make me better equipped to handle life as it happens.

Our time together wasn't always perfect. There were times when they made mistakes. There were times when their students (especially me!) made mistakes. But we grew together, and we grew well.

So, here's to Dr. A, Mrs. B, and legacy they've left after 29 years of teaching!

Photo taken by Rebekah Byland

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
--Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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