“It Takes a Little Faith”: Regaining Hope Before the Big Day

“Your flight has been delayed until 9 p.m.”

Ughhhhhhhh. The words every airport occupant dreads, especially early morning on a Monday. And especially when one finds themselves in Cleveland.

But because of my involvement with JSP, this unwelcome announcement sparked more than frustration in me; I was worried. Not only because we had a big paper due at 5 p.m., but because at 3 p.m., our first truly l successful (and my successful, I mean full attendance. YES!!!) rehearsal was supposed to take place at John Marshall. And I was PUMPED. This excitement came from the fact that for the last seven weeks, Taylor, Allison, and I had been pushing hard for this rehearsal to become a reality. As chronicled in my other post, we had  attendance and communication problems leading up to December. Disappointment had become the norm, as calls went unanswered, emails went unanswered, and the logistics of our performance became nerve-wracking. I was losing faith that our students would show up at all, especially across town for a performance, and we had instated a back up plan: Osher Lifelong Learning. Yay for old people!!

We were expecting the worst, but that particular Monday, we got the best news in a long time.

Our usual Sunday email was sent out, and the students replied! We had three RSVPs, and that is three times what we were used to. From our experiences at John Marshall, while no students or one student meant bleak prospects (obviously), a few students meant reasonable hope for more, as social capital (never underestimate high school social capital) always ended up attracting a few more. Now, a good portion of my nerves about the performance were built around the logistical concerns of staging our particular act: almost every single character from the entire play made an appearance in our act, and we were looking at having one or two students. Could we manage? Absolutely. Because of the support of our fellow students, professor, and Dr. Soderland, not to mention our own abilities, we would be able to fill every roll no matter what. What concerned me was that the students who did make the effort of appearing and performing would feel less comfortable and less at home staging a performance with us than they would with their classmates, and that the goal of the project might be in jeopardy if our group continued to bail. These worries were most likely unfounded, but worries they remained. I am a worrier.

Anyway, Monday was a big day. It was the day we could really put our blocking and staging concepts to the test, and that we could get characterization sorted out so that the students would feel prepared.

So when I heard those words, “You flight has been delayed…”, they took on a new meaning for me. They meant, “Now you’re the one not showing up.” And that made me really sad. It was the last chance to connect with the kids before the performance, to see our ideas and hopes come to some fruition. For weeks, our kids “couldn’t make it,” Now, they finally could and now I was the one who couldn’t make it.

Did I have control over the situation? Of course not. It was discouraging, but I choose to do what I could: communicate with my team. I texted the talked other girls to plan and strategize the rehearsal, and they were going to call me and fill me in.

In hindsight, there was something fruitful about my absence that day. You see, most of my stress over the project came from the fact that I felt we were not getting a chance to serve the kids as well as we could have. What I neglected to remember was that our kids were one half of the JSP–we were the other half. What we gained from the experience, from leading a group, from challenging ourselves to make the best of a tough situation, from working with classmates who had different lives and schedules was just as much the point of the project as the kids were. And the day my flight was delayed, and I realized how much I cared about being there, and cared about my groupmates, well, that was as valuable as anything I could have gotten out of the rehearsal.

Looking ahead to the final performance next week, I realize that I need to stop worrying and keep my cool. Things are going to go wrong, and some kids just aren’t going to show. But that is beyond our control as a team. What is within our control is the way we coordinate and interact, and we are doing the best we can on that front. Most importantly, I care about this project and I know the other girls do too. Come what may, we will get it done.