By Jeremy Golant C’17
On January 24th, Mask & Wig celebrated the opening night of its 126th annual production—something that, as a freshman, I had been blindly anticipating for weeks (and in a more abstract reality, months). In returning to campus early to work on the show, I could plainly see the anticipation and excitement in the faces and attitudes of all of my older brothers, and I happily followed along. But it was not until the company found itself several minutes before the opening act—on the first night of many to come this semester—that I began to understand the excitement, the commitment, and the enthusiasm that the older company members had exhibited throughout the past few weeks and semester.
As a member of the business staff, I am afforded the privilege of seating the audience prior to the show. This task, while seemingly basic, provides me with the opportunity to talk with and get a feel for the people who will make up the crowd each night. As it were, opening night found the clubhouse bustling with alumni of the Club, all of whom were eager, witty, and understood volumes more about Mask & Wig than I can hope to in the near future. And perhaps most importantly for me, they all were wholly reflective of their own Penn experiences.
Graduates of our esteemed university return with a general love for the school; many remember the classes they took, their particular friend groups and Greek organizations, and the various extracurricular activities in which they partook. I, too, hope to one day return with the same notion of fondness and nostalgia. But what ostensibly set the Wig alumni apart was their committed love of tradition, and the incredible network that Mask & Wig comprises.
On opening night, I became overwhelmed with a feeling of connection to a greater community, and I was filled with a sense of purpose: to history, to tradition, and to profoundly important friendships and projects. Now, as I carry on through my day, I think endlessly about my relationship to Penn. As I go on, I find myself to be extremely proud: out of a vast pool of undergraduates, I know that I help to comprise a small group of men who carry on one of this University’s most notable and artful traditions.
And at the end of the show, seeing the Junior and Senior cast members onstage in full drag, performing the time-honored tradition of the kick-line at the end of the show, I felt inextricably tied to the history of this club. And what’s more, I felt tied to all of the other brilliant people who have helped to make this show a reality. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.