On Friday, Kari and I went to see the Theater Department’s production of The Laramie Project. It’s a painful, powerful account of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a queer student who was viciously beaten and left for dead, tied to a fence. The town wrestled with how to make sense of the event, and of itself, and the writers used ethnographic techniques to present a wide range of responses to this trauma. The brave student cast performed with sensitivity and intelligence, and the whole production was animated by the striving of all those who worked on it to make great theater. It’s so much work to put on a show like this at such a high level–emotional, physical, intellectual, work. And, led by the director Edward Torres, assistant professor of the practice in theater, they succeeded admirably.
Over the weekend I also got to see another form of student striving, though this time at a distance. The Wesleyan volleyball team was playing in the NCAA tournament — contests that bring the best of the best in a sport from around the country. The Wes women had handily dispatched their first opponent, but then they faced an excellent team (and recent rival) in Ithaca College. It was a terrific match, and although our team came out on the losing end in the 5th set, I was so proud of their efforts. Led by coach Ben Somera, they were striving to go beyond any expectations others had for them. Having worked so much, they were playing at the highest level.
Performances at Wesleyan come in many forms–in science and music, in film and poetry. I continue to be proud of and impressed by the ways that Wesleyan students go beyond what had been their personal bests to create new standards of courageous excellence. Bravo!