Snowed Under: The Importance of Being Awesome
“Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent posture. It is most indecorous”
It is the final night of the most recent offering from Queen’s Campus drama society ACT. I’ve been involved with this latest production, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and I’m watching from the wings.
“Mamma! I must beg you to retire…”
Our Gwendolen violently thrusts Jack down onto the stage much to the amusement of the audience. In the time between the writing of the play and our current performance, some of the verbal humour seems to have been lost. The physical comedy however, remains.
As much as I love the DSU, I have to admit that they have failed to provide the students of Queen’s Campus with any arts societies at all. The art society and musical theatre troupe are supported by John Snow College and ACT is associated with Stephenson. It’s not fair to blame the DSU for this, I admit, but in the interests of journalistic integrity and sensationalism it is exactly what I’m going to do.
ACT stands for Awesome College Theatre. It is a ridiculous acronym, and the society has tried and failed to shake it off. The president thought he had managed it this time until he saw it emblazoned across the booking page of the Stockton Arts Centre website. Personally, I have at least two objections to the name. In fact the only bit I approve of is the ‘theatre’.
I’m not being unkind when I say that the use of the word ‘awesome’ is overkill. Something truly awesome would – now how to put this – fill you with awe. I am not filled with awe. Impressed? Yes. But filled with indescribable awe which has left me dumbfounded? Not quite. This is not because I thought the acting was bad or anything like that. I actually thought it was quite good (even if I say so myself). I just believe that the word awesome should be kept aside, reserved for truly awesome things like the wonders of the world, the wonders of the universe and Professor Brian Cox. This ridiculous use of hyperbole is an American import, like workplace acronyms, Hannah Montana or spray on cheese – except not spray on cheese because there is no place for it in this country (nor, in fact, is there place for it in America.)
My other objection, in two parts, is to the word ‘College’. Firstly, ‘college’ doesn’t actually mean ‘college’ anymore. These days it means ‘centre for further education’ and given that Durham University is actually an institution for higher education, the word ‘college’ seems a little misleading. I’m not going to get all snobby about colleges though. I went to one myself and so did you. (By my reckoning, all sixth forms are colleges.)
The second objection, however, completely overlooks this. Assume you are thinking of a Durham University college and not a sixth-form college when you read ‘college’ in the acronym. This creates a new problem. ACT has members from both colleges here at Queen’s Campus. If anything the connection to only one of them has been a hindrance. The purse strings are held tightly by Stephenson; as a result our set was sadly simple (well, if they wouldn’t even give their students pancakes…) and to top it off, I’m sure that collegiate patriotism led to a reduced audience size. It certainly limited our advertising abilities.
I don’t know how ACT ended up in this state. I think there ought to be a definite course of action towards becoming a DSU society. There has been talk of it but nothing has materialised yet. This shilly-shallying about the question is quite absurd but until the problem reaches a resolution I’m going to unfairly blame the DSU. They may not be responsible for this per se but it is symptomatic of a much larger problem.
In the meantime ACT is propped up purely by its reserves of ‘awesome’.
Image: Selena N. B. H. (Flickr: moonlightbulb)