Hell Week

By Grace Hatton

Ahh, the circus. A Wilson spring tradition. Every year the event showcases all the weird and wonderful talent this school has to offer the community. Yet before students, staff and faculty can settle into Bryson to enjoy a delightful evening of steppers, aerialists, dancers, acrobats and more, the performers must endure something affectionately referred to as Hell Week.

The week of a circus, performers, like myself, gather in Bryson for three days, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, to complete rehearsals before coming back together again for the performances on Friday and Saturday night.

During hell week the performers come with our acts, costumes and piles of homework we hope to do in between rehearsing the show.

The band plays in the background and an old time cabaret vibe seems to fall over Bryson. Everyone looks on in anticipation as we discover each other’s acts for the first time. Laptops, notepads and textbooks litter the edges of Bryson as we all hope to finish some work in between performing and watching the other wondrous acts.

Yet very few of us will actually finish any work. The atmosphere is far too hectic, far too colorful and to be frank, too much of a circus.

We arrive at 7 p.m. and after hours of practice around midnight we are given the okay to say goodnight. We leave behind a pacing student activities crew who endure perhaps an even crueler hell week, as they work themselves to the bone but will receive no applause on opening night.  As we leave Bryson near the midnight hour we all look a little like zombies with droopy eyes, arched backs and a thin layer of sweat clinging to our pores.

For myself after I leave rehearsals I stay up till 3 a.m. (I’m writing this at 2:49 a.m.) completing the homework that is due at 9 a.m. the next morning. For a week my life is consumed by circus.

I think about how I need to be at rehearsals, how I need to find more glitter for my costume, how I need to perfect that last step and how crazy the weekend is going to be. When my teachers tell me there is more work due this week I simply cringe. I won’t be getting any sleep.

Hell Week is a potent, all-consuming thing and by the end of Wednesday’s dress rehearsals we are all sick of the wooden interior of Bryson and the acts that seemed so wondrous on Monday now seem tired and stale (even though they are far from it).  There is no escaping the depth of absolute fatigue that seeps into your bones during Hell Week. Imagine finals week but with more physical pain thanks to the repeated run through of your act.

Yet despite this horrid week we’re all still here, waiting for Friday. The truth is, yes Hell Week is a bitch, but we’re all eager to showcase our talent and represent our school the best we can.

Circus is a celebration of students’ ingenuity and imagination. It’s an ode to how odd (how many schools have a circus?) yet utterly amazing Wilson is. There’s nothing quite like being part of a circus show and on Friday and Saturday when we pour everything we have into a three or four minute performance you’ll notice.

You’ll see our passion and endurance shine through with every stomp, kick, joke and trick. And all we ask for in return is applause on show night and a little leniency on the run up. If someone you know is in circus, they’re going through Hell Week right now and may seem a little dull, a little unresponsive and a little tired, but you can make them feel so much better by respecting the grueling nature of Hell Week. There’s no complaining here. Just one girl’s expression of the agony of Hell Week, but hey that’s a choice we all made when we signed up for the wonder that is circus and have no fear come show time the performers and stage crew of circus will give you the best show of the year. So be prepared for nothing short of magic.