As the 7,100 Arrowmen at NOAC filed into Assembly Hall on Wednesday night for the theme show, few understood the impact that a theme show can have. Passages was truly an experience that explained the Admonition and Obligation in a way that Arrowmen could never have expected. The show was set on a snowy evening. The audience was immersed in the experience as snow fell in Assembly Hall thanks to the magic of special effects.
A large, old library filled the stage as we met the characters on screen. A group of four typical teenagers, Kris, Trey, Nick & Andy, were working late together on an English assignment from their teacher, Mrs. Fielding, in the local library. Each of the boys was assigned a passage of poetry to read, and to work together to discover what the authors were telling them of their own lives, and how they related to each other.
Each of the characters becomes more defined as the story moves forward. We begin to know Trey as the stereotypical "jock". Kris is 17 and struggling with the major decisions of where he wants go go in life. Nick joins us as the youngest of the group, but also the most philosophical and introspective. Andy tends to be the "geek" of the group, although he is still accepted by his peers. Andy's mother happens to be the librarian, which allowed them to stay in the library as late as necessary. The audience gets to know the main characters better as they explain some of their actions through brief "asides" on the projection screen.
As the boys begin to study the passages of poetry, they found that the feelings of the authors often mirrored their own. Each of them begins to feel that they will learn both about the authors, but more importantly, about themselves. The further they delved into the poetry, the more they felt that Mrs. Fielding assigned them the passages for a reason. Every piece of poetry seemed to coincidentally relate closely to each of the boys.
During the evening, Jim, the reclusive evening librarian, stumbles upon the group and helps them with their assignment. Jim's profound insight into the poetry that they are studying becomes their biggest asset, as he helps them to understand the deeper meaning implied by the authors. As they got to know Jim better, the group discovered his blended past of pain and success.
Jim requested that the group of boys stay in the library to complete their experience. The youth spent a night alone in silence and subjected themselves to the same tests required of Ordeal candidates. They awoke enlightened, after thinking about the poetry that they had studied the night before. The show closed with the boys committing themselves to the ideals of the Obligation.
The show encouraged all Arrowmen to expose other people to the idea of cheerful service and the ideals of the Order of the Arrow. It showed clearly how the Ordeal experience can have a meaningful impact on a young man through the rest of his life.