Charles Nailen/The Hoya Brian Soja

When I was graciously invited to write a Senior Viewpoint I frantically began to ponder what sort of enlightened testimony or which embarrassing anecdote would best encapsulate my time on the Hilltop. After carefully scrutinizing the varied experiences – successes and failures, triumphs and follies – of the past four years, I finally arrived at one all-encompassing and incontrovertible fact: the majority of my Georgetown experience was spent trapped inside a little black box.

Confused? Let me explain.

The night before freshman move-in at Georgetown (a sweaty and disorganized debacle from which I am still recovering) I was staying in a hotel room overlooking the Potomac River. Sitting by the window at twilight, with Washington, D.C. sparkling before me, I was dazzled by the infinite possibilities of attending college in our nation’s capital. Despite the nervousness gnawing at my stomach, I began to create a mental list of all that I would accomplish over the next four years: downtown internships, frisbee on the Mall and a new Smithsonian every weekend. Yet with graduation impending, and when I attempt to characterize my college experience, my description of the last four years seems to be a list of all the things I haven’t done at Georgetown. I rarely went to a museum unless there were family members in town, I still can’t toss a frisbee to save my life and there were no internships on Capitol Hill for this boy. Instead, my undergraduate career led to an unexpected dedication to student theater.

Theater at Georgetown. The combination of words typically conjures from the listener a hybrid expression of horror and disbelief. Truth be told, hearing the name “Georgetown University” inspires words like “government,”law” and “Bill Clinton” well before “theater,”dance” and “Arthur iller.” After all, anyone with even a passing familiarity with the performing arts at Georgetown knows that all of the student groups struggle mightily with a lack of space for both rehearsal and performance. So why did I spend so much of my college career participating in an activity that seems to exist against all odds?

The answer: because despite all limitations this university sustains a vibrant and ambitious artistic community. I would even say that it is because of these limitations, because of the lack of space and facilities, that the devoted artists of Georgetown produce a creative energy that I would daresay rivals many programs in this nation. True, performing arts are not an overt presence on campus. For the past four years, my home away from home has been the tiny, inconspicuous Walsh Black Box Theatre in Poulton Hall. It was here that I was “trapped” for the past four years as a member of Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society; trapped, but certainly not against my will. The performance space is not much to look at – a converted classroom with a battered hardwood floor, chipped black paint on the walls and a rusty grid that seems ready to collapse. But in the capable hands of individuals who are nothing less than inspiring, this little space defies expectations.

Over the past four years, I’ve watched in amazement as Poulton Hall was transformed into the salons of 18th century Vienna, a Parisian bistro and a Greek amphitheatre. As an actor, I’ve stepped into the shoes of a philandering yuppie, a former drag queen and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, relishing every opportunity to explore the ever-deepening human condition. Most importantly, however, I’ve established friendships with a fascinating and talented group of individuals, people who will pursue professions as varied as the parts we’ve played and the sets that we’ve designed; people who will bring to these ventures the same infectious enthusiasm and professional devotion that has contributed to my incredible collegiate experience. And it all took place in one of the most cramped and unassuming corners of campus.

As graduation draws near, I struggle to determine what I should glean from the unique trajectory of my Georgetown career. Above all, I think that Georgetown has taught me to cherish the unexpected, to embrace the moments for which there are no ways to prepare. Theater was an unforeseen and defining force in my college experience, but these past four years were filled with many other unexpected joys, large and small. Principal among these is a two and a half year relationship with someone I love, a relationship that deepens with every passing day.

So as we say goodbye and look to the future, I expect that my mind will be filled with another mental “to do” list for the next stage of my life. But what I’m really waiting for are the moments I can’t even foresee, the dreams I have yet to dream, the little black box I have yet to discover.

Brian Soja is a senior in the College.

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