Last week, Jonathon M.T. Roberts’s self-made show “VHSwansong” was a revival of a rare kind of creative spirit. The whole production seemed to have inherited its enthusiasm from the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney “Hey, I know! Let’s put on a show!” approach to creativity. I say “huzzah!” to the whole show and its idea, and I take its cue to applaud other examples of excellence in self-motivation and creativity.According to Roberts, “VHSwansong” originated from an idea that occurred to him amidst a Freshman studies class. We’ve all had that experience where all of a sudden your imagination kicks in for a second and you’re left with an idea that begins with something like “wouldn’t it be cool if…” Still, we don’t always capitalize on those ideas beyond guffawing over it with a few friends.
It’s an endless Kansas road from that one glimpse of an idea to the finished manifestation, and often Lawrentians don’t feel like they have the spare time to devote to what falls outside of their already pressing requirements. For Roberts, it was a year before his show opened and closed last Tuesday. In the meantime, the work it took to get there involved writing and recording music, writing a play, getting a set, getting actors, organizing rehearsals, rehearsing, meeting with administration, dealing with setbacks, and so on. At first glance, most of us wonder if it was worth all that.
When he was in the recording studio, Roberts noticed the sign on Larry Darling’s wall that read, “An idea is only as good as its execution.” While we are here at Lawrence, we have the resources and the peers to successfully build on our own ideas. We should take our ideas and imagination as far as they can go, past exams and papers, through subjects and departments, maybe even across College Avenue (that’s another story). It’s usually when and how far you take what you’re learning beyond the curriculum and the ten-week term that you learn the most about what are your own deeper concerns.
There are other examples of student-opened creative outlets at Lawrence, and among those the Electronic Music Club has been particularly successful. In a short time, they’ve built a large following and drawn high-quality musicians like Tim Brady. In fact, they have single-handedly turned Appleton into an officially designated Mecca of electronic music, according to the affiliate website.
There is a lot to be said for having the almost child-like curiosity to jump in and get your hands dirty rather than be concerned with how appropriately prepared you are for each new challenge. Accomplishments like VHSwansong remind us to follow up on the “what ifs?” While most ideas don’t end in a multimedia musical, who’s to say it won’t?