Sandino started doing the invocation when they first debuted in April 2010 and did so for a number of months before switching to an organic opening. But before they even got their suggestion, one person would emerge from behind the curtain (in a spotlight), slowly start dancing and at the peak of the music would be joined by the rest of the group clapping in a rhythmic fashion, only stopping to strike a particular pose. Only after this would a member of Sandino ask for a suggestion.
Now this is a personal opinion based only on a few experiences, but I think it says a lot about a Harold team when you see their first night on Harold Night. It’s a unique night that can’t be manufactured ever again. Your friends, your family, your peers, students and teachers are all there feeling pride, jealousy, hope and determination. A team that does a great show on the first night speaks volumes about their internal team chemistry. Not the chemistry you gain by practicing for months and months, but the chemistry you share deep in your bones. Michael Delaney said that all great groups (comedy, music or otherwise) come from the same primordial soup. It’s an inherent gene that only lights up when certain atoms hit each other. It’s a connection that makes you friends, before you even know are friends. In comedy we say “sensibilities”. “What I think is funny, you think is funny and that’s why we work well together. It won’t take long for us to be on the same page because we get each other.” To have that after an initial meet up and a few practices is impossible to manufacture consistently. Some teams take months to develop that chemistry. Some never develop it. Very few teams start with it. I realize that the task of putting 8 performers together on a team is insane, but when it works, it’s magic. Needless to say Sandino had a great first Harold Night.
Sandino means a lot to me for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is Aaron Jackson. I took a 401 class with Aaron and out of that class formed our indie team, Boy Butter. Aaron was always a talented performer and it wasn’t a surprise at all when I had heard he was put on Harold Night. Most people didn’t know who he was, but that changed almost as soon as he yelled in his devilish way to his child on his first Harold Night. But speaking as a friend, I just wish he would cut that mop on his head.
Sandino also means a lot to me because of what they did with Harolds at Harold Night. Sandino started with the invocation opening and while they did perfectly fine performing it, they didn’t really find what “Sandino” was until they started doing organic Harolds. They started as simple organic openings, maybe laying a theme or a motif down, until their Harolds asked for something else. Something more risky, but ultimately more satisfying. Ellena once tweeted “Sandino weaves worlds.” which aptly described the organic phase of Sandino. Sandino made the Harold fascinating to watch and in a way that was completely their own.
It also didn’t hurt that Sandino was just god damn funny. And they are relentless on that front. One of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard came from Brandon Gulya as the edit line for their first scene of the Harold. Two parents were frantically waiting for their child to come home and Brandon knocks on the door. This excites the parents and they rush to the door and Brandon pops out saying “What is this? Brick?” as he pointed to their house. It wasn’t just a move of misdirection that made the moment funny, but the precision of it being a person walking down the street, noticing this particular house and popping in to ask if their house was built out of bricks. It was so uniquely authentic and at the same time completely absurd. Sandino is full of those contradictions and I am glad I was there to see most of them.
Many teachers and performers talk about teams and shows from years before I had even heard about the UCB Theater, in a way that made me jealous that they experienced something so wonderful. I may never see The Swarm’s “Slow Waltz Around Rage Mountain”, or a Neutrino Cagematch, or a fwand Harold, but I can say that I have seen Sandino. And I’m glad I did.