Alec Hynes ’13, Johnson Fellow in Performance Studies
I have grown fond L’Abri. The countryside is ever lush. The conversations are lively; the community is filled with good people, all in different places and on different journeys. L’Abri presses you into close living quarters and rigid routine, and the result is outbound growth that affects your interactions with others in and out of the community. My intellect has been run ragged by the students and lecturers, my artistry has gained definition by the worldviews of those around me (or in books handed to me by them). L’Abri has been nothing short of transformative.
As far as Religion and Performance Studies are concerned, I have an insight into faith distinct from textbooks and scholarly analysis; faith here is lived out every day, in often uncomfortably close quarters. I understand and appreciate Christianity in a wholly new light.
For the Theatre based aspect of the Fellowship, I’ve had a steady outpouring of ideas and plans for Medea, guided by newly formed artistic tenets. One such insight is the framing of Medea as Jason’s reflection on memory, aiming to simultaneously keep the integrity of the classic storyline and the redemption of retrospective understanding. If the audience is jostled by the tragedy, they should be: there is deep relevance within the marital meltdown and weaponized progeny in the play. However, the message is not fated destruction if Jason is changed in the aftermath. The character of man is selfishly vengeful throughout the tragedy, but I think, within the last pages, there’s a spark of other-centered action as Jason’s pain moves to his children. Exploring that movement within the retrospective framework will allow hope its place (hopefully).
Having undergone such an intense and rewarding experience, it is sad to say goodbye. But, like a performance, the ensemble formed must dissipate when the run is over. And, as hard as it is, staying in London before my flight, I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s all black production of Julius Caesar staged in modern Africa. The parallels to righteous revolutions cyclically self-imploding into the same systems of despotism was haunting. It was certainly one of the best shows I have ever seen. With Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia still in the news and the Arab Spring still fomenting, the play struck a cord with its diverse audience.
I am so grateful to L’Abri and the Cornell Fellows program for meeting with an unusual venture and lending ample time and resources to my Fellowship. The experience was the most formative of my college career.