It was an evening of tartans and tuna tartare as the men in kilts invaded the highlands of Oak Bluffs, auctioning off their services at the Mediterranean Restaurant to benefit the high school’s drama program. All the traditional Celtic standards were on offer Thursday night, from Danny Boy to It’s Raining Men, as kilt-clad local teachers and community leaders put their services up for bidding to help send 16 students to Edinburgh to perform in the legendary Fringe Festival in August.
The invitation to Scotland represents a major landmark for the high school drama program, which already has won a spate of awards in recent years at the Massachusetts High School Drama Guild competition. Out of 2,100 eligible schools in the U.S., only 43 were selected to perform at the festival, one of the oldest, most prestigious of its kind in the world.
“They’re unbelievably excited,” said drama director and master of ceremonies Kate Murray, “This is the chance of a lifetime for them. It’s also great because they’ll get to spend time with all the other high schools, so the kids can make connections with other kids who are interested in what they’re doing.”
The students will enjoy two weeks in the old country taking in sweeping Scottish vistas, touring castles and even visiting London for three days of sightseeing. Once in Edinburgh they will put on four performances of their original musical, The Secret of the Seven Sisters, which the students wrote in collaboration with Ms. Murray and high school drama graduate Jake Estabrook. One performance will even take place on Edinburgh’s legendary Royal Mile. (Before being seen off, the drama program will also hold a performance of their play on August 1 at 4 p.m. at the high school.)
The trip will cost money though — $6,000 per student — and Thursday’s charity event at Mediterranean brought them one step closer to Holyrood Palace.
First up for bidding was Mediterranean executive chef Doug Hewson, who promised to make a house call to cook a meal for four people. To jump start the bidding, he raised his offer to six people and vowed to cook in his kilt. A quick $300 later he was the possession of Keepa Lowe, whose son Julius would later fetch a handsome price for yard work.
“I will make you so happy,” Mr. Hewson vowed to his new owner.
Next on stage was teacher Andrew Gilmore, who wielded a sword from a bygone school production of Camelot like William Wallace and brought in $200 for a Tashmoo sunset cruise on his boat the Black & Tan. “Women love him and fish fear him,” assured the auctioneer. For his part Mr. Gilmore promised “a very stable boat and an unstable captain.”
Jim Powell, high school math teacher and self-proclaimed “Don Quixote of the Island,” offered to mend stone walls and perform $100 worth of gardening, which he boasted helped maintain his brawny physique. To raise bids he even offered to pose on stone walls for pictures, baring his thighs to prospective bidders, which had a negligible effect on the final bid price.
As the scotch flowed, the services on offer became progressively more ridiculous and by the end of the night it was unclear what exactly people were bidding on; one participant promised to force-feed a goose while another offered two hours of counseling on a skating rink. Language teacher Ben Sprayregen offered to speak in French to the winning bidder for an hour, which seemed to some like more of a punishment than prize. Even the dress became absurd as participants added leis and Mardi Gras masks to their Scottish ensembles, as well as hand-drawn facial hair of all styles.
But there were moments of poignancy as well, as when Jake Estabrook serenaded the audience with a traditional Irish tune and then reaped a windfall for his crooning services at bidding time.
By the time the last kilted Islander had sold his services (a two-hour architectural consultation), the event had raised thousands of dollars for the high school drama troop, with bidding frenzies to rival a Ray Ellis show. From drawing lessons to foursomes at Farm Neck, the kilted men of the Island head out this week to make good on their offers and they do so with a lucky band of drama pioneers in mind.