Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Out of the night that covers me..."

By Mithra Ballesteros, First Stage Children's Theater

Day two of summer Academy began this morning with much conversation about last night's violent storm that raged through the Milwaukee area.  A tornado touched down in Eagle, destroying homes and businesses, and causing some injuries.  Many of the students lost sleep last night but then arose to a freshly-washed and perfectly starched summer day.  Forgetting the fear of last night's storm, they bounced in, eager for 'start-of-day', a hundred little absorbent sponges taking in this message from First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank:
Welcome!  This is First Stage's Theater Academy.  We ask you to leave the challenges of the school year behind you.  It is time to embrace the challenges ahead of you.  This is an opportunity to be masters of your own fate. 

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail fighting against apartheid.  When he had doubts and fears about the challenges that he knew he had to face on the road to freedom, this poem gave him courage:

INVICTUS by William Ernest Hensley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gait,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Photo of Academy students by STM Creative