There are new concrete walls south of Blank Performing Arts Center. Each day the project begins to take on a more recognizable form. As you walk by the building you can see current faculty, staff, and students pause for a few moments to watch the progress. The progress is exciting, and the addition to the physical space is essential, but many people who spend time in BPAC and those who have spent time there through the years know that it is more than concrete and green carpet that give life to this space. Today’s blog entry is written by Simpson College alumnus Margy Gibson McCarthy ’84. Margy is a pre-published writer currently teaching seventh grade writing at Crane Middle School in Yuma, AZ.
Margy Gibson McCarthy '84, guest writer for the Theatre Simpson blog
“The houses south of BPAC were coming down to make way for the renovation when I was in town last summer. At the intersection of Detroit and D, I squinted through the rain toward the building, suddenly realizing it could well be my last opportunity to see my theatre as it has been since I first knew it thirty years ago.
Only a moment’s indecision and I chose to drive on by.
The opera was in residence. I made that mistake a number of years ago—finding an open door and entering only to find the place all but unrecognizable and overrun with strangers. Strangers who eyed me with distrust, as if I were the one trespassing on their turf rather than vice versa.
No. There was no need to stop. More than a quarter century later, the imprint of that time and place is still so vivid in my mind and my everyday existence that there was no need for a “final” visit.
I drove slowly– but I drove on.
It’s hard to put into words what I think of when I look back at Theatre Simpson. The difficulty lies in the way those four years have sent tendrils twining into every aspect of my life every day. Over time, “what was” has evolved into and tangled up with “what is” until the two are simply one thing.
It’s not a looking back; it’s looking in a mirror.
To this day the reflection that returns my gaze is the person I became when I was there. In her eyes I see enormous potential, a deep love of art, an appreciation for creativity in many guises, and the kind of passion that never dies. With a subtle flick of an eyelash I also recognize that without the accompanying hurts, risks, disappointments, heartbreak, and hard lessons learned during those years, I would never have developed the tenacity and belief in myself it takes to continue to see potential.
In four short years at Theatre Simpson I learned more about life and love and human nature and human spirit than I had ever learned before or will likely ever learn again. It is one of my greatest blessings that so many who fell into step with me within those walls three decades ago still travel the road of life beside me today.
When I first saw the plans for the addition to the building I was of mixed emotion.
I’m not anymore.
Nothing in life stays the same and nothing changes.
So long as the house remains that peculiar luminous shade of apple/Kelly green… So long as the scent of paint and fresh-cut lumber greets me at the loading dock door and I hear familiar voices laughing and calling my name from the catwalks of my memory… So long as the passages down center vom cradle the belly of that stage like a mother’s arms around her beloved unborn…
…I will hear the echo of my past and the promise of my future in that place.”
Thanks to Margy for taking the time to share her thoughts about Theatre Simpson. The renovation will continue to bring changes to Theatre Simpson, but the heart and soul of the experience of creating theatre at Simpson will remain the same.