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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Reflections from an A&Senior

If you flip past news, past local and past opinions (a more time-consuming feat than ever this week), you’ll arrive at the ever-evolving Arts & Culture section (A&C). If news is the responsible eldest, local the well-adjusted middle child and opinions the loud, jaded teen , A&C is the baby, the bright young thing that still has a sparkle in its eye. Once titled Arts & Academics, today’s A&C is known by some as the fun section, always ready with a review or a crossword to distract you from the work that brought you to a Proc booth in the first place.

Having written and edited for the section since freshman year, I’ve certainly A&Ceen some things. Just this year, the freedom A&C offers has allowed me to chase down the voice of Davis, unpack my favorite Christmas songs and uncover the mystery of the man always drawing in a coffee shop (to say nothing of letting me write three times about Taylor Swift). What other section is so driven by student passions or so open to suggestions? Topics may vary, but the rush of seeing my name or my friends’ in black and white on a Thursday morning still hasn’t faded.

In fall 2020, eager to meet people in a mask-shrouded campus, I reached out to then-A&C editor Rain Ji about a story spotlighting Middlebury theater majors during Covid-19, despite never having conducted a formal interview in my life. Part of my earnest email reads, “Although I don’t have experience writing for a newspaper (my high school didn’t have one) I’m interested in exploring what writing for The Campus would be like.” That first (outdoor, socially distanced) interview lit a spark that inspired me to take on a second Covid arts piece about that year’s invite-only Cocoon, and before I knew it, I was hooked.

During my first-year spring, my roommate Sarah Miller and I both joined The Campus as editors, tuning into weekly staff Zooms from our second-floor Hepburn double (“double” also being a word that often described our audio feeds). In a semester in which three of my four classes were online, descending into the Hepburn basement once a week to edit and chat face-to-face with my fellow A&C editors in The Campus’ HQ was one of the best parts of my week. Getting to know students from different circles, finding out about cool events and hearing from upperclassmen what Midd had been like pre-Covid made me justly hopeful for the next three years.

In all my semesters with A&C, the undisputed highlight of any editing session comes at the end, after the last Oxford comma has been deleted and the final class year apostrophe has been reversed (‘24, begone). Then begins the brain-wracking. Synonyms, homophones and idioms are thrown out rapid fire, quickly followed by giggles at the more ridiculous suggestions. Our goal? A trademark A&C title, complete with a pun or a play on words. We used to place bets about how punny our headlines could be and still get past the executive team. The answer? Pretty punny. (Some recent favorites include “Ducking tradition,” “With a pinch of Saltveit” and “Chekhov, please”).

Beyond wordplay, the best part about writing for The Campus is meeting people — and at A&C, those people are artists. But you never know where you’ll find them.

On one of the less sodden days of last summer, I found myself at Haymaker Bun Company, where the purple cursive of their summer latte menu caught my eye. Upon closer examination, I spotted the artists’ tag, and the seed of a story was born. A hop, skip and a jump later I was sitting riverside with chalkboard artist Caitlin Sausville. After our formal interview ended, we got to chatting about the local theatre scene. Casually, she asked whether any musicals were ever put on at Town Hall Theater, where I had interned the summer before. “Oh yes,” I remember telling her. “Auditions for ‘Next to Normal’ are actually this afternoon.” Weeks later, I found out that not only had Sausville whipped off an audition on such short notice, but she had scored a major role. That January, I had the pleasure of working backstage on that very production. 

“I wouldn’t have known about the show and certainly wouldn’t have walked straight over to the theater that day if it hadn’t been for her,” Sausville wrote on Instagram about the cosmic coincidence. “Pay attention to the universe, folks… there are always pieces of your puzzle waiting for you to find them if you just look up once in a while and say ‘yes.’”

Sausville’s words perfectly capture the connection and spontaneity that define our section of the paper. Whether your passion is theatre, film, visual art, music or something else entirely, the broad umbrella of A&C is happy to shelter you — and is sure to leave you singing in the rain.

Acadia Klepeis

Acadia Klepeis ’24 (she/her) is an Arts & Culture Editor. 

She is an English major and a French and Francophone Studies minor. Last year, Cadi studied literature in Paris and in Oxford through Middlebury’s school abroad programs. She spent this past summer working as a communications intern for the Vermont Arts Council. Previously, she completed internships with Tuttle Publishing, Theatre in Paris, and Town Hall Theater. Cadi is also on the board for Middlebury College Musical Theatre.