Thursday, August 2, 2012

An Unexpected Union: Rock Concerts and Historical Theatre

If you want to know what it looks like when Gordon takes over up here, consider Cry Innocent.

Now, one would think that a history lesson would be at the very bottom of any SoulFest teen's To Do list. But lo and behold, a few strategically intermingled Puritans become the center of attention in just about any crowd.

The cast took to the SoulFest streets to call for the arrest of Goody Bridget Bishop, accused of witchcraft. Once they found the goodwife nervously pacing in front of the Gordon tent, she was swiftly apprehended and, with the help of a few passersby, escorted to the meeting hall arranged in the Gunstock lodge. The crowd that followed grew steadily in Pied-Piper-like fashion as the players stalked across the festival. By the time we made it to the lodge's back room, the space was packed.

But perhaps more amazingly: once it had occurred to the audience that they were about to participate in an interactive historical education experience, nobody left. And if I do say so, they all enjoyed themselves quite a bit. The play's format allows opportunity for audience members to cross-examine witnesses and Goody Bishop, and then at the production's conclusion to vote on whether the case of Goody Bishop should proceed to formal trial. Questions were on-point and engaged, and by show's end there was an audible sigh of relief as Bridget Bishop was declared innocent by a single vote.

As the excited crowd filtered out or stuck around to chat with the actors about their magical land of origin (that is, Gordon College), it was clear that this SoulFest crowd had in the last hour encountered something totally unpredictable and completely worthwhile. I'll resist overt comparison to a certain institution of higher learning.

(In other SoulFest factoids, our intrepid street team has discovered that if fabulous prizes are involved, highly motivated concert patrons can fit upwards of thirty human hands on a regulation-size hula hoop. No news on the current condition of said hula hoop.)

Photo: The arrest of Bridget Bishop

John Mirisola ’11 is a Gordon alum and staff writer for the College. Follow along this week as he blogs about all things Gordon College at SoulFest.

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