It is Wintershow week and the atmosphere at the center is filled with an odd mixture of disruption and routine, anticipation and anxiety that-- for all its novelty-- will be familiar to anyone who has experienced it before. These twice-yearly shows have become part of the more long-term rhythm of life at the center, and as exciting as Saturday night’s grand and exuberant finale will be, the build up is almost as much fun.
Up until this week most of the kids and adults have been in the dark about the actual content of the show. Sure, for a month or so there have been rumors or hints-- a flyer taped to the window or lyric sheets littering the music room. We have all heard the bleating and honking of horns in the music room and the thuds of something grungy coming from the artshack. But this week everything is out in the open. What seemed like a whisper is now a full-throated chorus. Since Monday the performers have been rehearsing almost around the clock during Center hours. The hosts have been chosen and the final set list is complete.
Macomber is in many ways an innovative version of a one-room schoolhouse. Part of the fun of the week is that even the non-performers are given a role in the show. Some of us are stagehands, stand-ins or spontaneous dancers; all of us are members of a captive audience. This week there is no escape from music. All the ordinary activities of the center suddenly have soundtrack. Taylor Swift serenades Terraria. Chem class combines with cool jazz. Kids are dancing, reading, knitting, using Tumblr, eating, playing, and learning the finest points of pointillism all-- at last!-- with a full band accompaniment (in many ways these attempts at normality only add to the sense of delight and disorder). It is as if the community as a whole is rehearsing for some larger, more mysterious performance.
Along with the sudden change in auditory atmosphere, there is transformation of physical space. Yesterday morning the back of the center disappeared behind curtains and lights and a sound system appeared. All the furniture condensed to one end. This disruption of space has become another recognizable and enjoyable part of the week leading up the show. Walter Benjamin, the literary critic, wrote about the relationship children have with construction sites and refuse (where, in his eyes, they find a model of the world that they can reconfigure into their own paradise). I often think of this when I see how eagerly kids adapt to a changed environment. The temporarily remodeled interior of the center, a source of much concern and discussion by the staff, becomes a playground. Stacks of chairs provide a jungle gym; couches pushed together become trampolines and tunnels. Every new configuration of space must be explored and inhabited, and new games are designed just for this purpose.
Of course Monday everything will return to more or less normal but until then we are enjoying the change of routine and looking forward to the final show on Saturday night. Hope to see everyone there!