One of the most exciting things about Midd is a chance to be in a community small enough that everyone gets the opportunity to showcase their talents and get a good audience. One of the truly amazing things is how many of these little showcases are put on in any given week–any particular span of 7 days here often includes an a capella concert, a play, a senior piano recital, and a tapdancing performace, just to use this week as an example.
Plays at Middlebury are some of the most heavily attended of these events. There is something at the same time alluring and alarming about seeing friends and acquantainces up on stage, with deep make-up induced wrinkles and in period costume, enduring struggles and triumphs that you know are very different from those that they undergo on a regular basis.
The threatre department at Midd is a tight-knit, friendly place, with many of the same actors playing lead and bit roles during the same semester in everything from Shakespeare to Howard Barker. Barker was, in fact, the playwright of the most recent piece that I attended. Directed by Richard Romagnoli, “The Castle” was true masterpiece of feminist thought, betrayals in love, and questions of punishment and hierarchy. It is a simultaneously dark and comedic play, and seeing the war-torn, ragged students on stage (the main character at some times strapped to the body of her murder victim) was unsettling.
At the same time, it showed the incredible power of the student body to put aside all of their papers, readings, meetings, and cares to submerge themselves into the arts, both as performers and observers. Yes, at this frantic time of year going to see a play is partially escapist, but it is also a way to get to know a whole other side of the everyday life of a small select group of Midd theatre kids.