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Opening Night of Belleville: My Transformational Neighborhood

By Jackie Old Coyote-Logan on February 10, 2017

Yesterday…seems so far away…but not really. It is imprinted in my being. I am new to the Department. It has been an interesting journey to this point, I’m a little over a month in. I love Theater (yes, it deserves to be capitalized.), I love film, I love stories, and I love characters. So, in my imagination, I believe I will love this new position as the Administrative Assistant (AA) for Colgate University Department of Theater. What a mouthful…

The days before yesterday have been filled with learning: new names; places; protocols; software and platforms (I convinced myself to call them electronic forms so they wouldn’t seem so daunting). Meetings and deadlines have pretty much consumed my efforts – until yesterday.

Opening night of the Belleville Production. Yes, the deadlines very much included this as a goal, but it wasn’t my goal. It was a deadline. I saw the student actors and crew often. As an AA I smile at them, knowing they are students with demanding schedules and conflicting lives. And I leave the office, situated adjacent to the theater – Brehmer Theater. I saw the set. Sometimes I saw the students gathered around their Director, Adrian Giurgea. Each day as I would leave my office, and the Theater was there—filled with empty seats and stage set, but empty—I knew something more happened there when I left.

Each morning, I would have a new report, telling me in cryptograph, what happened in my absence. I would scan the report for my name or any “To Do’s” that might be generated for me.

Opening night for me meant, “Did I meet all my deadlines? Were they met well? Will our efforts generate enough interest to fill the seats?” And of course there was also my self-talk: “What is my role? How should I dress?”

At curtain call I was shaking. Not cold, not hot, just physically a tiny tremor throughout my being. Then a brief announcement about the production, and slowly, the characters caught my attention. (Why slowly when they start on stage? Hmm…)

And literally, within minutes, my sense of place and being are transformed from the Brehmer Theater, adjacent to my office, to a small apartment in Belleville, France. I am mesmerized. The set that I saw every day became alive, a character in Belleville as much as the living, breathing beings who temporarily inhabit the skin of characters from the pages of a play I read during my lunch one day.

For almost two hours, I am consumed by the scenes in front of me, happening adjacent to my office. (I want you to come experience the play yourself so no spoilers here!!) I think more than consumed and transported, I was indescribably awestruck.

I have images from a movie, “Night At the Museum,” where havoc is wreaked in the ‘closed’ hours of the Natural Museum of History. I thought how Brehmer Theater was akin to this…a place for me of deadlines, papers, electronic forms, an office, lives its own entity with its own stories at night. To the general passerby, the Brehmer Theater leaves much untold.

The student cast and crew, have their lives, their own obligations to being Colgate students. I know these rigors and demands myself, not at Colgate, but still…So when I see them become new people, in a new place, from a place very familiar and set in stone (perhaps literally?!) I stop shaking, but not really, it is more that the shaking takes on a new dimension. I’m rocked to my core.

The discipline, dedication, teamwork, talent, and courage by everyone involved leave me speechless. I don’t even think about what I’m wearing or the next deadline. I’m in Belleville.

And that was yesterday. I now have an living, breathing story and Belleville to gauge my perspective. I know, beyond theory, why the work I do matters, why the deadlines are important. I am humbled and proud at the same time, to be part of the team. I rise to my feet in applause for everyone behind opening night of Belleville.

And up next, 4 more opportunities to be transported and transfixed. You too can join, Brehmer Theater, Thursday – Saturday @ 7 pm, and last chance, Sunday, Feb. 12 @ 2pm!

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