After nearly a year of being away, Andover’s community has finally gotten the opportunity to readjust to campus lifestyle. Various performance arts groups have begun preparing for their return to the stage, counting down the days until live productions can once again bring together the community. This year’s Theater-920 drama elective class is no different—both students and faculty involved strive to develop an impactful performance of “Anonymous” to eventually conclude a unique yet familiar Fall term.
A spin-off of the Greek classic “The Odyssey,” “Anonymous” examines the story through the perspective of a culturally ambiguous immigrant, promoting the inclusion of diverse cultures and identities. Celeste Robinson ’22, one of the student leaders in charge of choreography, emphasized the importance of creativity within their interpretation and presentation of the production.
“We don’t have a play-by-play direction of how we’re going to tell people to do the show. We want to hear from them, and we want to explore with them the possibilities of [what] direction [the show] can go in. I think that also ties back into hearing everyone read the parts—what we’re doing in our casting process of [being] fluid and dynamic,” said Robinson.
Theater-920’s “Anonymous” also aims to bring the greater Andover community together, according to Allen Grimm, the chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. Grimm conveyed his wish for their production to not only appeal to others with its innovative execution but also in its ability to spark reunions and reconnections.
“The theater is simultaneously a civic event and an artistic event. People go to participate in the act of life storytelling, but they also go to commune with each other. You need a space for the audience to actually have this civic moment where they can go see friends,” said Grimm.
More important than anything, however, according to Grimm, is the aspect of being in person and how it allows for a heightened experience and appreciation for the arts. Grimm emphasized that the return to campus helped re-establish a community that could not only create a shared sense of belonging but also facilitate a personal, deeper trade of insights and experiences with live performances.
“One of the things about live performance is you get this connection—a really rooted connection of community where you get to exchange ideas and feelings in an immediate sense… The performers are going to be able to touch the audience. It’s gonna have that intimacy, and I want to have that kind of emotional connection. I want the story to have resonance, in a real, palpable [sense],” said Grimm.
“Anonymous” is a production made for the community of Andover and its return. Similar to Grimm, Robinson believes that the production is not only an important story to tell for its themes, but also for the sense of belonging that it can bring to Andover students finally returning to a community that is dear to them.
“The [production] was a deliberate decision by Grimm to transition into a time after virtual learning. [“Anonymous”] is the story of the Odyssey, and that is a journey… This [production] is our journey of coming back home—Andover home—and it was a very timely choice,” said Robinson.
Editor’s Note: Celeste Robinson is the Chief Financial Officer of The Phillipian.