More Than a Vacation: Arts Refects on Budget Cuts and the Future: Scotland Trip Refection

Brilliant fireworks explode in the air, their colorful hues cascading across the sky and lighting up Edinburgh Castle for all to see. The sound of the bagpipe blasts as hundreds of men in traditional tartan garb march in perfect formation. It is the Edinburgh Tattoo 2001, held every summer at the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. I am lucky enough to drink in every minute of it, there with the close friends I had made in Ms. Wombwell’s Dance 400 class that winter. Being in Parabox, the Scotland show of my Lower year, was like living a dream I had before I even got to Andover. I had read the pamphlets sent to me by the school before I was accepted, and the one about Andover participating in the American High School Theatre Festival in Scotland during its famous Fringe Festival caught my eye. I knew I wanted to go to Andover because I knew I wanted to perform in Scotland. The actual experience was everything I had anticipated and more. I felt the thrill of performing in another country, sharing with an audience far bigger than the small Andover community the piece that we created in writing Parabox. In our spare time we went sightseeing, shopping, and saw more theater in a ten-day span than I had seen previously in my whole life. I’ll never forget one of the days that I went with three other cast members to see Antigone: A Rock Opera. We had been given the tickets for free and we couldn’t wait to see the show. By the end of it, we had to bite our hands from laughing too hard – it was that bad. There were actually lyrics that went: “I think the queen is dead/She may have taken too many of those funny little pills/funny little pills/funny little pills.” (It wasn’t supposed to be a comedy.) And though the show was the worst written and worst executed production any of us had ever seen, we still had such a great time being together and laughing about it. (Or trying to stifle our laughter.) Another time, we were all finally able to grab tickets to see a riveting underground showing of Cabaret. We all saw our share of good and bad theater while in Scotland, and more importantly, we were together seeing it, just as we were together when we performed our own show. The amazing memories I have of Scotland are some of the fondest of my entire Phillips Academy career. In fact, I had such a good time the summer going into my Upper year that I didn’t audition for Rhinoceros, which will participate in the Fringe Festival this summer. My reason was that if I auditioned and were cast, then someone else who hasn’t had the opportunity to go to Scotland wouldn’t be able to. I wanted to give other kids a chance to experience what I had. The good times I had that summer all came flooding back to me when I opened up my Phillipian last week to read that the Scotland trip will be cut for the next three years as part of budget cut effort by the Trustees. As the saying goes, I never realized what I had until it was gone. I certainly took for granted the fact that my school had the funding to send upwards of twenty people to Scotland. I am not writing to bemoan the fact that our school now can’t have all of the luxuries that it has had in the past, but I must lament that its unfortunate for students in the three years to come. I know how much fun the trip is, and I now realize how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to experience it. I conclude by saying that I really hope that this is only a temporary solution to a large budget problem that the school faces. Before reading about the Scotland trip getting cut, I admit that I was apathetic towards the school’s $140 million dollar loss. I thought to myself, “What do I care? I’m graduating in the spring anyway.” Now I’ve realized that it does affect me. I’ll leave knowing that students, at least in the near future, will miss out on the best program I’ve taken part in at this school.