Winter Literary Tea reveals unseen artistic talents
A woman sat in the back of the Brown Room in tears as she watched her daughter read aloud a poignant piece of prose that she had written about her 10-year-old brother’s heart transplant. This emotionally revealing performance from senior Caroline Catterton was just one of many performances at the Winter Literary Tea on Friday, Jan. 6.
Almost every folding chair in the Brown Room was filled as even more students stood around the perimeter of the room to watch their classmates reveal a part of themselves that most had never seen before. The Winter Literary Tea was welcome to parents, teachers, classes, and students alike.
Each performance was an intimate exhibition of the performer’s talent, whether it was writing poetry, presenting a dramatic reading, or singing. All Creative Writing students were required to participate by their teacher and Senior Project Coordinator Louise Geczy, and other artistically or musically inclined students were encouraged to perform.
“They don’t have to be in a class with me to be one of those performers,” Geczy said. “I try to include as much of the fine arts program as possible.” When Gezcy came to JC 10 years ago, she began the tradition of hosting a Literary Tea in the winter and in the spring to provide an opportunity for her students to share their exceptional yet unseen talents.
Dean of Students Thomas Vierheller was an audience member at the Literary Tea and he believes that it proves how JC educates the whole person.
“I think it’s one of those unique things to John Carroll . . . We have such a great performing art center, we have a fantastic art program. It’s just a great opportunity for those who have the ability to weave words, if you will,” Vierheller said.
“One of the things I like most is that students who are not normally out there having the leads in plays or performing in concerts get a chance to share their talents,” Geczy said. The most difficult part of planning this event is “convincing students that they can do this and not die in the process,” Geczy said with a laugh. Most importantly, she encourages them to see that “they have something worth sharing.”
“The most difficult thing about performing in the Literary Tea was the nerves. I was so nervous that I was literally shaking the entire time,” Catterton said. ”The most gratifying thing was knowing I did my best and that people enjoyed what I read. ”
Vierheller confirmed that every performance was an enjoyable experience.
“My favorite part is viewing the personal expression of the students, especially in poetry about themselves. It’s really touching to me that they’re telling their story. Students feel safe here expressing themselves like that,” Vierheller said.
Creative Writing and Speech students prepared for the Literary Tea as they wrote all semester long and chose three of their favorite pieces before Christmas break. Geczy selected two out of the three that she believed would provide the most variety in performances.
Unique performances from this year’s Winter Literary Tea included a humorous poetic reading of “What Teachers Make” by sophomore Kaley Martin, a dramatic reading of senior Scott Novak’s short story “The Day Death Entered,” and a martial arts demonstration by juniors Becky Heuer and Jada Williams.
“I don’t have one particular favorite experience because each year there is always some ‘wow’ moment, usually when there’s someone who has maybe been the quiet person or the person who has not stood out,” Geczy said.
Geczy’s other responsibility as Senior Project Coordinator correlates with her motivation to continue organizing Literary Teas every winter and spring. ”I truly believe that once you’ve done something like this, and like senior project, you never have to doubt yourself again,” Geczy said.
Cara Reilly is the Copy Editor Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com