By Virginia McMahon
We walk a straight line of eggshells with our heads down, and a resolve to just get by. We are careful not to speak out, or to offend, as our greatest fear is disappointment. And we are lonely. Then, suddenly, someone roars, “make your own damn sandwich!” And just like that, our empty hands are held by the warm sentiment that someone else understands.
The person was Emily Simkin, a student in Armsted Christian’s celebrated Flo’Ology class, and her statement was a biting message to the boy your mother warned you about. On Monday, December 9th, 2013, the Red Room had the honor of, once again, lending its intimate stage to Christian’s class of diverse Berklee students. To peers, classmates, teachers, and viewers on the web, Christian’s students did what so many of us struggle to do each day- told their truth.
Professor Christian defines Flo’Ology as “the manifestation of an idea…rooted in literary expression and spoken word poetry.” He goes on to describe it as “a contemporary term that is intended to encourage freedom, honesty and truth, through narrative writing, spoken word poetry, and freestyle verbalization.” Deeming their classes “sessions” and their class space an “environment”, Flo’Ology encourages its students to sit back, relax, and just be. Beyond the description in the Berklee Course Handbook, the details of Flo’Ology are truly known only to those who have had the opportunity to enroll. For, as far as one can tell, this is not a class that suffices to be explained by a black and white block of generic words, it is ultimately an experience.
Of the fourteen students who took the stage that night, no one shared the same last name. And yet, time and time again, they referred to each other as “family”. It is enough to make one realize that, despite what a standard dictionary might preach, family isn’t about being related. Family is about being able to relate. By that definition, the students of Flo’Ology are nothing short of a family.
Much like the Flo’Ology class, the Red Room is not just a venue- it is an environment. From student recitals and big name concerts, to class presentations and guest lecturers, the Red Room is a space for people to share what they have created, in whatever form it takes. And what other reason to share than to encourage the realization that we are somehow connected to one another? As with most Red Room events, Flo’Ology only served to perpetuate the facilitation of human connection. Because, when it comes down to it, people really aren’t all that bad.
With the stage packed up and the clock counting closer to 11pm, the clusters of patrons and performers began to break apart, and wander out of the venue’s heavy double doors. But whether you walked home with someone by your side, or strolled onto Boylston in a party of one, after Armsted Christian’s Flo’Ology Experience, no one left the Red Room feeling alone.