Columns / Discourse / November 11, 2015

Reflecting on tension in the arts

“Why is there tension between the dance and theatre departments?” What a question. And one that I have no good answer to. This is a tension brought about by a lot of passions and too few resources to satisfactorily carry it. This is a tension that reaches so far back, it touches on our inner cave dweller, recalling those ancient tussles over patches of grass and small caves. Because that is the center of our malcontent: Harbach.

With only one theatre space on our campus large enough and well enough equipped to handle a performance with any sort of grace, it often finds itself in higher demand than there is time in existence. Adding to this imbalance, is the one (pretty awesome, in my humble opinion) theatre professor, Craig Choma, who finds himself regularly working what could be reasonably handled by four capable humans. And the final proviso? That this space is the responsibility of the Theatre Department. All the preparation — setting lighting, painting, cleaning, and general care Ñ that goes into transforming Harbach Theatre into a usable performance space is the responsibility of the Theatre Department, or (more accurately) Craig. And, for the most part, it is happily done. Who on this campus is better qualified to take responsibility for our theatrical space(s) than those that use it most? As a senior in the department, I am still awed by the sheer amount of work that goes into every single production. It also never ceases to amaze me how big of a mess is created every term. By week nine, all the sweat, tears, blood and wood have been taken to the metaphorical (as well as real) dump and the entire department exhales a collective, exhausted breath.

Enter Terpsichore — who are just now inhaling that last bit of oxygen before their own performance.

Tell me you don’t feel the tension.

Now tell me what to do about it.

I have no answers beyond respect and patience. It is easy to be condemning when you’re tired. It is difficult to see beyond the walls of responsibility as they crash into your shore. Every year it is the same game, with many new faces, all trying to get the best possible work done in what seems to be a shorter and shorter amount of time. Only by communicating effectively, planning ahead, and forgiving those oh-so-human blunders that we all make can our hard work be a success.

Sophie Click

Tags:  arts craig choma dance harbach theatre tension terpsichore theatre

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