This is the motto I lived by throughout my four years of high school at Gann — “The Academy,” as we called it. We had a sheep with an X over it painted on the wall of our green room. But as much as we were encouraged to not be sheep, we fiercely followed our shepherd, our director and mentor Jason. When I learned in December that Jason would be leaving after 17 years of teaching (at a school that’s only 20 years old), I was heartbroken for the current students, but excited that he would now be able to devote his full attention to his own theatre making. My brother told me that drama club would be doing a tribute to him after the Saturday night performance and I agreed to go even though I feel like I’d aged out from it being acceptable for me to attend my high school’s shows.
As I sat through The Mystery of Edwin Drood, doing my best to ignore the dropped lines and dark spots and the last four years of theatre education I’ve received, I thought about my time with my high school drama club. I went into the green room after the show, having not been there for a couple years maybe. The running order from my senior thesis show was still taped to the wall. My books with an attempt at blocking written in them were still on the shelf. The note I’d written on the white board to the club at my graduation was still there, dried in Expo marker since 2013. When I finish a show I’m sad to see end I tend to remind myself that it’s okay that theatre is ephemeral. I remember saying goodbye to the black box when I graduated, but now walking through the green room I realized that was the space that mattered most. Not the theatre, the space where I said my first words of Shakespeare or stage managed my first play or directed my own show. The green room, the space where we met as a club once a week during M3 block on Thursdays with the crossed-out sheep painted on the wall — that was the space that now, four years out, I realized truly mattered. Because what that room told me this past Saturday was that it’s okay to be sentimental about the theatre you made in high school. It’s okay that you want to hold onto the ephemeral. It’s okay to go back to your roots and remember why you started.
“No sheep,” I’m reminded. Thanks, Jason.