It’s the last day that I will be taking classes at the University of Michigan. Â This called for some grade-A, mascara-running, life-pondering, empty-feeling nostalgia and sadness. Â Instead, I have decided to blog about just how lucky I was to experience this university, this town, and all of the art is has to offer.
So, here it is. Â A list of the things I am glad to have experienced and sad to leave behind (in no particular order):
UMS is a truly unique program for the University of Michigan. Â Through UMS, we are able to see some of the best performers in the world for as little as $10. Â That is just cool. Â Some of my personal favorite UMS performances have included: Bill T. Jones’ Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray- I think this was my first UMS experience and it turned my expectations of dance and dance theatre upside down; The Cripple of Inishmaan, which showed me how simply great theatre can be done and proved to me yet again the power of good writing; Audra McDonald who I had been wanting to see perform live for at least 10 years and was not the least let down by; and Einstein on the Beach because I had never before seen something of such wide scope, innovation, or ambition. Â My only regret is that I did not take more advantage of these wonderful opportunities.
I first went to The Ark my sophomore year to see one of my favorite bands, Blind Pilot. Â The Ark is one of the most genuine spaces to see live music. Â If you don’t know what I mean by that, you haven’t been there. Â There is something so personal about having a staff made up of volunteers who have themselves been going to the concerts for years. Â The space is intimate and bands seem to really feel at home there. Â Additionally, one of the more Ann Arbor-y events I have attended in my time here was last year’s Folk Festival. Â Getting to experience that classic model of folk shows that goes on for hours, ended by an out of this world set by The Avett Brothers was an experience I will never forget.
The Blind Pig.
While the atmosphere at this venue is very different from The Ark, the intimate, honest performances remain the same. Â The Blind Pig feels like a space from a different era. Â It’s like a safer CBGB’s- there’s a grittiness and friendliness that permeates the air. Â And also, on my own nerdy level, I feel way cooler when I’m at the Pig. Â And that’s always a good thing.
I was reminded of this in the best way possible the other night when walking back from The Rude Mechanicals’ aesthetically amazing production of Machinal. Â It was a beautiful night, and as I walked down my street, I heard some really skillful bluegrass coming from the porch of one of the co-ops. Â In that one moment, I felt like I was fully experiencing spring in Ann Arbor. Â I am not a musician myself, so being able to just walk by really talented people playing because they feel like it and love what they’re doing is comforting and purely joyful.
I’ve expressed my undying love for Basement Arts on this blog too many times to subject the readers to that lecture of adoration again. Â I will just say that Basement was my gateway into the theatre world on campus, I have made some of the best friends I have ever known through Basement, and I admire the daring spirit of all hands on deck free theatre that is present in Basement.
The Michigan Theatre.
The Michigan is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever entered. Â When you walk in, you feel as if you’ve been transported through time. Â The sounds of the organ floating through the air, the buzzing audience awaiting a really great lecture, movie, or concert, the brilliant tapestries and paintings filling the space– there’s really nothing like it. Â I’ve seen some great movies and invigorating talks in The Michigan and the combined intellectual and visual stimulation with the beauty around me made me feel, “This is how it’s supposed to be.”
The music and dance departments.
I put both of these departments in one category, because, unfortunately, I have not experienced them as much as I would have liked. Â But I have deep admiration for the students and professors in these departments who consistently turn out professional products. They explore a beauty and vulnerability that has really touched me. Â I can’t wait to see what they’ll go on to do .
Now we’re getting to the personal part of the blog. Â I just joined the improv group Witt’s End, and it was one of the smartest decisions I have made. Â Being surrounded by these funny and smart people has made me a better and more interesting person. Â I have become a more spontaneous and gut-driven person. Â I am more quick on my feet. Â I have learned to trust myself, and I happened to make some really great friends in the process.
The Theatres- Mendelssohn, Power Center, Arthur Miller, and Hill.
I feel so lucky to have been able to both be an audience member and somehow involved in a show in each of these spaces. Â There is something incredible and otherworldly about standing on these stages. Â During my time here, I have also had increased respect for the audience. Â I really enjoy being an audience member. Â There’s something so communally beautiful about going on a journey with complete strangers. Â These theatres have become my home away from home the past 3 years, and I will really miss that safe space to explore and shape my artistic sensibilities.
The Department of Theatre & Drama.
My family. Â My companions through this coming of age stage. Â My collaborators. Â My teachers. My friends. Â I do not know how I can possibly leave all of this behind. Â I have learned so much from every single person who has passed through this department in my time here. Â I know that I will have the opportunity to work with some brilliant people in my career but I cannot fathom how any experience can match the emotional and intellectual depths of the personal and professional relationships I have made in this department. Â I have undying gratitude. Â I have learned so much from my successes and failures in the Walgreen and around campus.
It’s going to be very hard to leave all this behind. Â In tough moments like these, I always return to the incomparable Tony Kushner and his words from Angels in America: “Nothing’s lost forever. Â In this world, there’s a kind of painful progress. Â Longing for what we’ve left behind and dreaming ahead.”