Don’t Blame the Grasshopper

Like many student performers, I waited anxiously for The Email: the set list for Grasshopper Night. When it finally arrived, I was bummed. Neither of the acts I’d auditioned in had made the cut. But do you know what really disappointed me? The lack of grace and class I saw several times in reaction to this cast list. In front of one girl who helped choose Grasshopper acts, several people compared notes on accepted groups they thought didn’t deserve to be in the show. The same girl received two or three angry emails from student groups, demanding to know why their piece hadn’t been included. If your act didn’t make the cut, it does no good to antagonize your assessors. Instead, ask Annie Li ’10, Katy Svec ’10 or Rei Konolige ’10, the Grasshopper Night producers, what you can do to make your act better. Katy was more than happy to discuss this with me. The request for constructive criticism is more appreciated than protests against the act choice. What upsets me is that Andover is filled with triumphs and disappointments. We all have learned that what was a given at our old school, straight A’s, a starting spot on a sports team, the lead in the school musical, is not necessarily so at Phillips Academy. Similarly, to be a performer in Grasshopper Night is a privilege, not a right. The theater producers chose the best acts to try and create the best show possible, in the way that a hockey coach is looking for the strongest team. I would be very surprised if coaches received as many complaints from players cut from the varsity roster as the theater producers do for students cut from Grasshopper. At a school with so many genuinely kind people, it’s embarrassing how many students reacted to Annie, Rei and Katy’s decisions with such little grace. Despite popular belief, Grasshopper is not the biggest arts performance of the year. We have ChoreoLabs and DramaLabs that showcase the talents of our dancers and actors throughout the year, not to mention the Theater 520 shows and the Dance Open. There are several coffeehouses per term that bands and musical groups can perform at. But how often do we see Drumline perform? How about Illuminati? Grasshopper is a fantastic opportunity for lesser-featured performance groups to showcase their talent. We cannot change the cast list; we can only change our reaction to it. The next time you get The Email, don’t waste time and energy complaining about how inferior that other group’s piece was. Instead, think about how to improve your own act. Stay classy, Phillips Academy. You can do better than this. Marilyn Harris is a two-year Upper from Steamboat Springs, CO.