INSIGHT: Community & Individuality
By Ginger Ellingson, Director of Fine & Performing Arts
I first saw Hamilton on the EBC Chicago trip in 2019. The most impactful part of this epic creation, to me, is the ending. After the fast-paced production keeps the audience moving and grooving in their seats with beats, baselines, and harmony, the show ends acapella—voices without any instruments or accompaniment. Not only that, but the acapella singing is in unison—the cast onstage is all singing the same note. In contrast to the heavily produced show that precedes it, this concluding moment stands out and demonstrates the power of individuals functioning in a group as one.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of EPS, the Fine & Performing Arts is telling stories set in schools. Each story has a different way in which the individual and the group dynamics are highlighted. In Agatha Rex, we learned the importance of individual voice and leadership. The “Puffs”, featured in the US Play by the same name, find identity within their group, and in High School Musical this spring, we will tell the story of how groups relate to one other. When the theatre season was announced this fall at Convocation to much fanfare, the rallying cry of “We’re All in this Together” elicited gasps of excitement and a few audible groans as well. I get it—it’s cheesy. There is a song about basketball. Beyond the uniforms, magic spells, and cheese, though, are core questions ever-present in the daily life of a school—Who am I? What is my role in this group? How does this group relate to that group? Knowing and Being Known—the EPS theme for the year—creates a sense of belonging which comes from having answers to these questions. In a school that celebrates both community and individuality, it is a joyful and busy time in the Fine & Performing Arts as much of the fall trimester’s work comes to fruition. Individuals join together in community to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. The incomparable musician Prince once said, “To create something from nothing is one of the greatest feelings, and I would—I don’t know, I wish it upon everybody. It’s heaven.”