As you have likely heard, Waynflete is hosting two performances of Incognito next Tuesday, March 4. There will be a daytime performance for students in grade 8 through 12 and their advisors and an evening performance at 7:00 p.m. for the community with a reception sponsored by the Parents Association and Parent Diversity Committee in the Arc hallway preceding the performance.
I am writing this note to inform you as to why we are hosting these performances at Waynflete. Incognito is a one man play in which the actor, Michael Fosberg, tells his personal story of identity. The performance highlights the many dimensions of identity, including race which features prominently in Mr. Fosberg’s life story. It also, contrary to the assumption that many hold, highlights the idea that identity is not something stable that one “discovers” once and for all at some point in life but is instead fluid so that the “discovery” of identity is ongoing and sometimes surprising as one’s experiences change and perceptions of experiences evolve.
We are hosting this performance for our students because supporting identity formation is central to our mission. Helping them to cultivate interests and passions in the present while staying open to the possibilities moving forward activates so much of their potential as students, as leaders, as ethical citizens, as artists, as athletes, or you name it. In fact, I would name our support for this process as the secret ingredient of the Waynflete experience that propels our students forward and often leaves me wondering as I watch them in and out of the classroom, “Huh, what was I doing when I was in high school?”
Thus, the theme of identity formation underlies much of the Waynflete experience. It is central to the Ninth Grade Seminar curriculum. We had a fascinating assembly last fall in which Waynflete alum Lucas O’Neil (’08) told his story of identity formation. The video of his talk is linked here. And we hope that the Incognito show will inspire students to reflect constructively on the many dimensions of identity and the ongoing excitement of shaping it.
The show is powerful as Mr. Fosberg’s story is emotionally charged and includes times of anxiety and anguish. It may cause some students to reflect on unsettling experiences of their own, which is why we have scheduled the show so that students will spend time in their advising groups afterwards. I hope you will be able to engage your child in conversation after the show, and I do encourage you to attend the evening performance. I have been in regular communication with Mr. Fosberg and have come to realize that his story has messages about identity and race that are relevant to my life as well as to the lives of our students.