We considered ourselves klutzes. We didn’t like to sweat. While the jocks were outside running laps and bouncing balls to the cheerleader’s chants, we were more likely to be found lying down on the stage as our drama teacher encouraged us to imagine ourselves “floating on a velvet cloud.” Outside of school, we sometimes gathered to play touch football or kickball, but those games usually disintegrated into a laughing puppy pile without a clear winner or loser.
Competition, of course, reared its head during auditions for solos or parts in plays. Cast lists would be posted, tears would be shed – but then – it was back to the community of the whole, for the integrity of a performance would rely on all of us, working together. It was never about one person being better than everyone else, just someone being better for a part.
Bottom Row - L - Godspell. Center - The Ascot Race from My Fair Lady. Right - Doug Austin, drama director, inspiring a cast.
The jocks and the prom queens may have run the rest of the school, but we ran the Arts wing. We knew we were not always understood, but by the magic that music and theater bring, we were not only tolerated, we were appreciated by audiences of our peers and the community at large.
Even today, we find ourselves by and large a liberal-minded group. All these years later at school reunions, we still don’t fit in. If anything, our peers who stayed in our town have become increasingly ideologically conservative, creating more of a divide in our shared experiences. No matter. We do many things for a living now and are scattered all over the world, but we are the dreamers of dreams, the singers of songs, the players of melodies. We unabashedly and proudly believe in the ability of the arts to heal the world.