The members of the Temporary Lockdown Ensemble stood united at the curtain call, radiating pure joy. They were so proud of themselves, and deservedly so, for the performance they had just given of “Conscience Versus the Double Life.” The teachers of the Nancy B. Jefferson High School, who had welcomed us into their classrooms and walked alongside us for the whole year, leapt to their feet. The other young people who are residents of the facility gave them the highest compliment of all: they asked if they could join the ensemble.

I was thinking…how did we get here from the last challenging couple of weeks…well really, months? We experienced canceled sessions due to facility schedule conflicts, we lost ensemble members with key roles, and the kids completed the final song and 3 scenes just one week before the audience saw the show.

As always, the youth pulled through and truly shone. It’s as though the more obstacles they face, the harder they push back, determined to create and succeed. The moment that a group of individuals becomes an ensemble is a magical and unpredictable and uncontrollable thing. We do our best to set the conditions for success, but there’s something about the will of each member of the group to surrender to the process and become “One.” It’s the magnetic force of creativity, in music, writing, and performing that suddenly binds us, both the Teaching Artists and the young people, together. Somehow, “ensemble” happened, right on time and in the most transformative way.

We are so proud of this ensemble, but even happier to see how proud they are of themselves.

– Cheri