The greatest, yet most challenging, thing about our culture night is its nature. UCLA’s Vietnamese Culture Night has been known to tackle difficult topics head-on, such as mail-order brides, LGBT issues, mental health, gambling, interracial marriage, and so on. These topics– which can easily be misconstrued or misrepresented– require lots of careful planning, and the exact word for the occasion, lest the theme of the show be misunderstood.
The same goes for this year. The sensitive topic that I am choosing to cover this year is very near and dear to me– so dear, in fact, that the very importance I place on this subject has intimidated me into discarding a lot of my ideas.
Writing about this topic has been a constant process of writing, editing, and discarding over and over and over again. It’s difficult for me to stick with one idea because I am constantly trying to make sure that I tackle this subject in just the right way. Otherwise, I run the risk of leading the audience to poor conclusions or presenting bad solutions to these issues– neither of which I want to do.
Getting my staff settled in has been a little problematic as well. Above all, my philosophy for my staff is that you should take care of yourself as a person first, then yourself as a student, and then yourself as a student leader. However, this did result in a few logistical problems. Thanks to the support of VCN alumni and previous directors, I was able to work out a lot of the issues. It’s so great to know that there is a support network out there for me.
In addition to my own struggles, there are the struggles of the auditionees who may eventually be our cast. Three of our components– Traditional, Modern, and Awechords– have already finished their auditions and have accepted their members. Drama is having their auditions this week, and Stage is still accepting applicants.
My producers and I dropped by each of the components’ auditions, and I’m amazed every year by the amount of talent that shows itself here. UCLA is truly a talented community, and our VCN community is quite talented as well.
I’m a little nervous about Drama auditions. These actors and actresses are just as important as the words they will present. The way that they convey the emotions that I write, the way they express these words– it’s so critical to the success of the show and the success of my message. Choosing them will be difficult.
At the same time, I’m so excited. As a writer, one of my biggest dreams was to see my work come to life. I’m so fortunate to be able to watch my own writings– me! My own play!– be performed on a stage as esteemed as Royce.
With 99 days left until show day (yikes!), we are all doing our best to prepare for what we hope will be an amazing night. In one of my bleaker moments this last week, my producer said this to me: “Sarah, no one is going to let you fail. No one wants to watch VCN fail.”
From here on out, I’m going to keep chugging along. It’s a difficult and stressful road, but it’s one that I’ve put myself on and it’s one that I am proud (if not stressed) to be on.