It’s Week 2. The welcome week activities have ended. The Bruin Walk mobs have not. And there’s 99 days left until VCN show day. Yes, we’ve entered the double digits, y’all.
Since the last time I posted, so much has been going on with the start of school that I haven’t been able to keep up. There’s a lot I want to cover though.
Let’s recap what happened during the summer!
Much of the past three to four months has been dedicated to developing the script and assembling our staff. A disproportionate amount of that time, however, was spent on the former.
Even with a relatively clear vision of what I had planned in mind, it took weeks for me to decide the basis of the script’s themes and direction. I didn’t know what I wanted the show to talk about, because there was a lot I wanted it to talk about. In fact, I had so much internal struggle with it that it had to take words from a former VSU President (thanks Katrina Vo!) to help me make sense of it all.
See, in recent years, our culture night has chosen to shed light on various “taboo” topics in our community. These topics have pushed our show’s boundaries beyond the topics it had covered before. If VCN was to be an educational program and platform, it has fulfilled that role without a problem with our last 3-4 productions. I wanted to continue this tradition.
And while it still remains incredibly important to address these very current issues facing our Vietnamese American community, I finally made a decision at the issues-based versus story-based crossroads: I decided to bring this year’s show back to it’s traditional roots and tell a story that is relevant to our ancestors, ourselves, and our refugee background.
Come on, you didn’t expect me to divulge more than that, did you?
Anyway: my writing blocks during the summer were pretty bad. On some days I resorted to scrunching up pieces of paper and throwing it at the wall in frustration (really). Fortunately, my two prodz a.k.a. producers a.k.a. “cheese and candy” a.k.a. Breigh and Andy were there to help me brainstorm and outline the whole script. I eventually went on a two-week writing intensive in the very last part of summer to finish writing the actual script with dialogue, and despite a few frustrating writing blocks, the entire process went smoothly. As of this past week, the script is essentially finished! COMMENCE THE AGONIZING EDITING STAGE!
On the logistical side of things, we had our staff assembled in the span of about a month. Half of our staff is made of performance leadership—groups like VSU Modern, Traditional, AweChords—who already have their staff members planned out prior to VCN, and the other half is VCN-specialized staff, like Stage, Publicity, Fiscal and Sponsorship. Because we couldn’t meet together over the summer, the producers and I held online one-on-one meetings with each component to make sure everyone was acquainted (note to self: don’t wear tanks, don’t wear tanks). We also brought on a number of committee members (shout out to you all!) who are going to be awesome in helping us throughout this whole planning process.
During zero week, I became busy with VSU Board activities as we planned our annual Welcome Week events, filmed our welcome video, and went to all-leadership retreat together with our two projects, HOPE and SEA CLEAR. To those who don’t know very much about VCN’s relationship to VSU, this is a surprise—we’re definitely NOT two independent entities! VCN is just one of many programs put on by the Vietnamese Student Union for the past 35 years, technically making every participant in our show an extension of VSU’s general member body. In other words… WE’RE ONE BIG HAPPY GIA ĐÌNH! (But really though).
On Monday of Week 1, the prodz and I decided to have a Vietnamese dinner—naturally—to celebrate the start of the year. Breigh brought her mother’s very yummy bò lúc lắc and rice, and I provided salad & dressing. Andy provided his superstar hair and laptop (but we didn’t eat those). After dinner, we talked about our first staff meeting and went over some edits we planned to make to the script.
Another highlight of Week 1: three out of four of our main performance groups (minus Drama) performed at VSU’s first general meeting! It was really awesome to see them all together for the first time this year and showing off their stuff. In three months, they’ll be seen together performing on an even bigger stage to a bigger audience.
But perhaps the most exciting of all is that we’re officially in AUDITIONS SEASON. Over the course of these first three weeks, our entire cast of over 150 students is being put together (you still have plenty of time to get involved: take a look at our auditions page to learn more). So far I’ve visited VSU Modern and Traditional at their auditions, and as Breigh put it, we were “checking out the new talent.” It’s always such a great feeling to see fresh new faces join our space—except for maybe Traditional, Drama, and Stage Crew, a lot of students unknowingly sign up to be a part of something bigger, something that might even be life-changing. But in particular, being at Traditional auditions gave me my first, legitimate chills; I realized that everything is getting real—the music we chose together and the dance they choreographed—and we’ve still got 3 very long months to go!