If you spend a lot of time walking around in the dark at night like I do, you know that there are a few rainy nights in the spring, here in Vermont, when every self-respecting spring peeper, wood frog and spotted salamander comes out in mobs, absolute mobs. They swarm across the roads on their way to vernal pools like ceremonial bathers crowding the banks of the Ganges, like Catholics elbowing into St. Peter’s Square for a Papal Inauguration, like Xbox shoppers on Black Friday. It’s just that same sense of explosive activity that happens this time of year on campus, when every self-respecting performing arts senior on Plan is presenting his music or her play or his dance or her avant-garde live video installation. Just this weekend there were two amazing Plan presentations, enough to overwhelm any spring peeper.
First there was a collection of short plays and poems by Tennessee Williams, peopled by our man Tennessee’s usual cast of dreamers, misfits and fugitives, all directed by senior Elizabeth Hull and performed in Whittemore Theater. The plays were Talk to Me Like the Rain, This Property is Condemned and Lady of Larkspur Lotion, referring to a lotion once used for lice. Now, I’m no Shakespeare but these plays were really artfully done and dug right into Tennessee’s “mystery of life and the meaning in the confusion of living.” Not only that, the actors and actresses actually spoke up so I could hear them. The plays were layered with poems, recited with feeling by senior Christopher Little, like some kind of delicious, wild at heart, layer cake.
The second Plan performance was a circus, literally. No, not the kind with elephants and lion tamers and sword swallowers and the flying trapeze artists. Senior Sarah Verbil’s performance was called “Circus of the Body,” and it started with a circus midway scene outside Persons Auditorium probably not much different than the dining hall any weekend evening: barkers, clowns, face-painting, contortionists, Siamese twins, fireworks and popcorn “free with the price of admission, which is also free.” Sarah’s show was non-stop entertainment, leading off with 11 dancers doing partnered acrobatics like synchronized swimmers on land, but it also had a serious message about body types and bodily self-image. There was a particularly poignant scene where four very different bodies looked at themselves in four mirrors, reflecting on themselves critically in the way everybody does. Unless you are a spring peeper, of course.