School News
December 5, 2017

Inertia, in strictly scientific terms, is a concept derived from Newton’s first law of motion—that an object in motion or at rest will remain in that state until acted upon by an external force. The same is often true of human nature. We are creatures of habit who tend to gravitate toward familiarity and repeat cyclical patterns. Inertia is also a dramatic play written by Vail Mountain School English teacher Kim Cope Tait that takes the stage at VMS this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tickets are available at

Featuring 22 students in grades 9-12 and three from lower school, the story opens in 1989 with a group of teenagers who experience a profound change in their lives. Inertia follows the repercussions of that change over the course of nearly three decades, illuminating the many ways that these kinds of moments can teach us, grow us, and even break us. To tell you more would reveal too much, but the poem below by Ms. Cope Tait provides a glimpse.

There are layers above and beneath these layers.
One human skips a stone over water like a mirror
and another howls his agony into the hair
of an imagined lover.

Why is it I can never remember why I
put this thing down--only to take it up again
in a primal embrace? There is a way to remember
a lover from a past life. There is a way to forget.

Rings swivel on fingers, click the stones we carry,
remind us of futures blooming in our hearts and
lighting up memory like flame. Campfires of regret
refuse to be lit. To kindle these thoughts before they
have passed into being would be a sacrilege.

I have known you for lifetimes, but this tenacity
is new. There is no way to anticipate the past.
Lifetimes split themselves like atoms, lethal explosion
of selves. I have known you for all of mine, and
I’m afraid I don’t remember how to let you go.


The Nucleus of the Story

Inertia is a play about the cyclical nature of life, love, and loss. It is serious and achingly beautiful, and its characters and their intertwined stories will stay with you long after the curtain falls. Jake and Angela are the two central characters around whom the story revolves.

“I’ve had to come up with a few theories, you know, in order to reconcile myself to things like that,” says Jake to Angela in a pivotal exchange. “Incongruencies with my ideas about God and the world. It’s like, my whole belief system got shot out of a cannon that night on the lake. For a long time, I thought it was irrecoverable, but then...then I realized I would have to put it back together again. Differently. Some of the pieces are the same, but I’ve become open to a lot more. My closed system didn’t give me a very satisfying answer to all those why’s.”

“We sometimes lock ourselves into what we love or cling to, and it causes us to miss out on opportunities and relationships that are right in front of us,” says Cope Tait. “We frequently misconstrue change as loss, but that is really only an expression of our own limitations.”

Inertia addresses some of life's central questions and inevitably raises new ones, but it definitely leaves its audience with a sense that our lives, our loves, our losses, may be much more interconnected than we ever imagined them to be.

Genesis of the Show

Inertia began as a group of sonnets written by Cope Tait that grew into the play. The VMS production will be the second time that the show has been on stage. Inertia was also performed at Leysin American School in Switzerland where Cope Tait was a teacher. Seeing the show on stage and the effect it had on the audience inspired her  to write the novel, Inertia, with the intention of broadening the reach of the underlying message.

Evolution of the Production

Since the first production of Inertia a decade ago, changes to theatre technology have allowed for the addition of new layers. The VMS production includes surreal video montages that represent a flow of energy that was portrayed by dancers in the Swiss production. In the current show, VMS Studio Dance Majors give physical form to transformations taking place within the characters around whom they are dancing and the effect is stunning. There is also a musical element that has been added, including a melancholy yet mesmerizing rendition of Tears for Fears’ 1983 hit “Mad World.”