In the performance space, about 20 upper school students lie flat on the floor. Clare Mottola, director of this year's spring musical, Un-American Activities, tells the group it's time to leave everything they brought in with them—all the pressures of the day, worries about finals, anything that might be a distraction—outside. "It will all still be there, waiting for you, when we're done," she says. "Even if we get a blizzard out there, we will be rehearsing today!"
The next two hours are a flurry of blocking, singing, and figuring out how fast you have to walk across the stage to hit the music just right. The students who make up the stage crew sit up front, writing down every decision made by Mottola or William Norman, Un-American's composer and musical director. When a student mimes holding a gun, the crew makes a note that they'll need a prop for that scene.
They only make it through a few scenes before it's time to go. They'll be back in a day or two. The students are rehearsing multiple times a week for hours at a time, preparing for the performance in early March. It's a special play that was written 12 years ago and has only been performed at ECFS; however, no one seems stressed about it. As junior Claudia Kelly said, "It's a whole different space. School can be very intense. Knowing you have rehearsal is a good way to get away from that."
Editor's note: Over the course of the next month, look for more articles on the spring musical's rehearsal process. "Un-American Activities" will be performed at Fieldston on March 2 and 3.