Just another Tuesday in the Chesapeake Room. With Clue on Stage a week away from its premiere, the student director and crew have set up the room as a theater-in-the-round to resemble the board game, with different rooms in different quadrants and a large open area in the middle. Suspended from the ceiling, stage lights aim in each direction, controlled by a hidden light board. Rehearsal has ended with familiar instructions by the director to “get off book,” so the empty space beckons.
The theater lighting dark, only fading December light from the windows illuminates two younger students as they casually ballet dance in the center of the room. Some students encourage the dancers to do a duet. An older girl plays a medley of classical pieces on the piano, and the light operator goes to the board and levels up the center spot. The girls improvise, reacting to both the music and the changing lights. When the tempo varies again, the girls whisper, assigning roles, and enact a spontaneous play/dance within the light circle. Just as suddenly as the collaboration arrived, the pianist’s car pool has come, and the performance ends. When the lights dim, the moment passes.
Still, the event lingers in the mind’s eye. What happens here, and why does it matter? A Fairhaven School experience involves many elements, but these are crucial:collaboration, age-mixing, imagination, play, creativity, and freedom. In these ephemeral moments on an otherwise normal Tuesday, all these qualities showed up, bounced around the Chesapeake Room for a few minutes, and then receded.Perhaps, though, they were not gone. Instead, maybe the participants learned a little more about collaboration with people who are older or younger. Maybe,too, they deepened their collective sense of what’s possible by playing with their imaginations. Finally, maybe they embraced further their freedom to shape their days in endless permutations, as they continue living lives that mean something, not merely to themselves, but also to anybody who interacts with them, whether now or in the future.