Jacobs Way 5.0 - An organiser's perspective
“Jacobs Way – The Only Musical about Life in the Bubble” is a passion project that was initiated in 2011 by Rene Wells, Head of Campus Life, as a production that would highlight the idiosyncrasies and myriad of happenings at Jacobs University Bremen. Classically, the backbone of this musical is a script that was written for the first edition of Jacobs Way and it has been adapted for the subsequent editions. This time around, however, the writers decided to spice things up and construct a script from scratch – with a new story, new characters, and even original songs. The goal of the writing team was to make a satire out of life at Jacobs and introduce content that the previous editions had not seen. What resulted was a story that followed the journey of a trio (each of them from a different field of study) through their three years at Jacobs and the hardships, the thrill and the emotions they encounter on the way.
Stepping into the organising team was promising an immense amount of commitment. From auditions to printing of tickets and posters, from getting a group of almost thirty people to coordinate with each other to making sure each day of the show was nothing more or less than the other, all of it was incredibly demanding and often draining, especially right in the face of thesis submissions, poster presentations and final examinations. More often than not, we would raise the question of whether or not we would be able to keep the tradition alive. But we – the entire team of directors, actors, writers, stage managers, costume and prop designers, light and sound managers, choreographers and musicians and the marketing managers – pulled through and put out not one, but three full house shows with satisfied spectators. Perhaps what kept us going was the slow but steady construction of the musical and the high spirits of everyone involved.
“It has been such a humbling and enriching experience, to gladly offer so much time and effort for the culmination of a student project with friends,” revealed Edgardo Reyes (playing Julio José Reyes Martínez Guzmán Prieto Salcido Murillo Sáenz Meléndez Canales Hidalgo de la Rosa Acosta Caballero), one of the protagonists of the musical, while we were all sprawled across the stage at 11:35 PM on a Thursday, after a long and exhausting day. The picture of the theatre space during the rehearsal remains vivid in my head – everyone typing away at their laptops and studying for quizzes but also keeping an ear out for their cue. In spite of the setbacks that we faced not only during practice, but also at other executive processes, we were excited to see how all of it would stitch together. Every time someone did a little improv with a fantastic joke, we’d crack up and add it to the script until the essence of improv was lost; this added to the fun and frenzy of the process.
After what seemed like weeks of endless work and stress, the end-product turned out better than we expected; great, if I had to explain it in one word. Sure, there were mistakes made on stage and technical failures during the performance. The days leading up to the first show were extremely tiresome and I for one, was panicking more often than I wanted to. But in conversation with the audience after the shows, we realised that we did a pretty decent job; that we struck a chord within some people who attended. However, more than the satisfaction of the audience, what I think we’re all going to take away are the memories we made during the process – the laughter, the love and the advice that was shared over many oily margherita pizzas. Teamwork does make the dream work.