Fair Festivities: Fine Arts Board Presents FunHouse

Maddie Stout, Arts & Life Co-Editor

Singing, dancing and improv, oh my! The carnival has come to town, and it’s in the form of Upper School Coffeehouse.

On Nov. 14, the Fine Arts Board put on the first Coffeehouse of the year: FunHouse, an interactive arts experience with a state fair theme. FunHouse advertised live performances, visual art and classic fair activities such as games and food outdoors in the Margaret Doggett Crow Amphitheater.

The Fine Arts Board planned FunHouse for months. Despite setbacks including having to postpone the date, Fine Arts Board Chair Kylee Hong said the creatively-decorated ampitheater provided a perfect backdrop for the first event of the year. 

“At the beginning of the year, we weren’t even sure if we could have an in-person Coffeehouse, and I’m so glad we could,” Hong said. “We’re so lucky to have this beautiful amphitheater and the resources to do it.”   

The amphitheater was decorated with balloons, flags and lighting to create the festive atmosphere in unfamiliar circumstances. The board capitalized on the Fine Arts Center’s prop closet to add to the effect and rented lights with the help of Emily Gray, Upper School drama teacher and Fine Arts Board faculty advisor.

To accommodate social distancing, the board allowed a maximum of 80 students to attend in person, sending out an RSVP form to the Upper School. For those who were not able to view the performances live, the board conducted a livestream from the @hockadayfab Instagram account.

At the event, 16 acts performed, ranging from dramatic poetry readings of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” to customary appearances from Hockaday Improv, who dressed as e-girls with the themed E-Prov. 

Senior Claire Tate, a first-time Coffeehouse performer, sang Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Although she said she felt nervous before her performance, her perspective changed when she stepped on stage.

“At first I was a little shaky, but the crowd was really supportive, which was helpful,” Tate said. “I felt really relieved and proud of myself that I got out of my comfort zone.”

For the past year, the Fine Arts Board has attempted to better intertwine visual arts and the performing arts in Coffeehouse performances. COVID-19 has added an extra challenge to this, yet through the integration of technology the board was able to include everyone who wanted to participate by posting both the acts and artwork of those who could not attend in person.

Hong applauded the board for creating an event that would keep everyone comfortable and content. 

“I’m just so proud that we were able to put this together and be safe about it,” Hong said. “One of our goals for this Coffeehouse was to give a sense of normalcy to everything even though we have all these restrictions, and it could not have gone better.” 

Those who attended felt the same.

“This is the best Coffeehouse I’ve ever been to,” senior Barbara Lou said.