And so, after years and months and weeks and days, it finally ends. The last days of our Scotland trip have arrived. When we looked upon our itinerary and saw our last day, filled with only a closing ceremony, it looked on paper quite docile and plain, but these closing moments have been among the most riveting on the trip.
Immediately after our last moments as a company on stage, before we even had time to ascertain that our show was truly over and done with, we were whisked off to the Edinburgh Military tattoo, the greatest demonstration of military might and music I’ve ever seen. I was astounded at the lone bagpipers, mock naval strikes on Somali pirate ships, Belgians on bicycles and German alphorn players. From the comical to the grave, a delegation of all fighting forces from across Europe were represented and shown off. Never have I been witness to such a presentation of raw masculine affectation as I was that night. After marching out of the stadium with Yael Platt, bagpipe music thrumming through our skulls, we awoke extra early to board buses with all other schools to see Stirling Castle, and the Trossachs, a region of northern Scotland known throughout the world as the great Scottish Highlands.
The castle is home to the kind of historical detail I absolutely love. The seat of the courts of Kings James IV, V, and the great King James the First (unifier of Scotland and England, coincidentally, he’s also King James VI) as well as Mary Queen of Scots and the site of famous battles from the numerous Scottish Wars of Independence (against the bloody English, of course). The fields were irrigated with the blood of such great men as Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, and the castle had only been newly restored and reopened to the public after renovations but one month before by Her Majesty The Queen herself! After, we toured the highlands where we allowed to explore numerous villages and tromp through the tressochs.
When we awoke the next day, it was with the knowledge that it would be our last day in Scotland.
The gentlemen and ladies of the group suited up in their finest and went off to meet the Consul General of Scotland at the United States Consulate. She told us about her impressive record, her numerous tours of duty and her pride in her American citizenship. She was a truly inspiring person.
We then went to our last AHTSF event, the closing ceremony. In a grand lecture hall in the heart of the University of Edinburgh, all schools were packed in. We were treated to speeches by actors, directors (including our very own Ms. Russell!) and just a spot or two of musical improv. At last, as we applauded, we looked about the room and realized that it was over. Our Scotland trip which had been so long coming was behind us. Amidst the thunderous applause and whooping and hollering, it came to me that this experience was truly unforgettable, and I can say free of the fear of being mired in cliché that my life and the lives of my peers, will forever more have the stamp upon them of the American High School Theater Festival.