In honor of the EMU Centennial Homecoming, Ted and Co. produced “What We Bring. What We Take. What We Leave.” Twice this weekend crowds packed Lehman Auditorium to witness the history of Eastern Mennonite University in play form.
Ted Swartz, ’89 and Ingrid De Sanctis, ’88 worked together to create this theatrical piece to honor the last 100 years of EMU.
The play consisted of scenes to illustrate practices of EMU through the years, such as dating protocol, and even game shows where contestants attempted to guess figures in EMU’s history. But the show always came back to the “EMU hill.” De Sanctis said, “When we first started working on the piece, we knew we needed a structure to hold it all together. And the hill was a recurring place with so many memories.”
The play revolved around EMU hill and the phrase, “I didn’t know it would be this hard.” This phrase ended every scene that involved the hill.
Two people would climb the hill and one would always run out of breath.Then, they would both talk about their life or recent events. The people were always different: a woman struggling with being the only one remaining to wear a covering to chapel, a young man coming to EMU for the first time, and a woman and a man trying to understand the tragedy of 9/11.
The scene of the young woman struggling with her covering was the most memorable for Swartz and De Sanctis. Swartz said, “It is interesting to look back at the customs that defined us at certain parts of history and perhaps be more understanding of why they were important, what did it take to turn away from items like dress — it wasn’t always blithely done.”
Music played an important role in the production as well. Actors sang “Come Thou Fount” as a time for centering and reflection.
Of course, it was humorous just as much as it was serious. There were plenty of jabs at Goshen College, “that liberal stain in the far, far west,” and several retellings of the best pranks that occurred on campus. The Mumaws had several jokes told at their expense as well.
As the jokes and references spanned the course of 100 years, many of the jokes went over the heads of the younger crowd, but it was not just for the older generations.
Several current students participated in the play. First-year Anisa Leonard, senior Michaela Mast, and senior Perry Blosser all participated in various parts of the production. Mast and Leonard had a section where they spoke about their personal decision to come to EMU and that decision’s effect. “Michaela and I were able to write our scene ourselves because it was about why we personally came to EMU,” said Leonard.
“What We Bring. What We Take. What We Leave” told the story of EMU’s past 100 years, including all the ups and the downs, while remaining faithful to the spirit of EMU.