A Seasoned Traveler Afraid to Fly

I’ve made rounds to Central America and Europe before, but only for at most a few weeks at a time. Although saying yes to the wild and exhilarating ride of Jesus Christ Superstar, this summer also included two horrific events that I will choose not to speak about right now. Regardless if you are within my inner circle and are aware of what I faced this summer or not, know that I had something done to me that will change my life forever. With that said, departing from my support system at a time I needed it most felt terrifying and isolating. I extended my stay in Oregon by over two weeks and heavily debated at the last minute taking a quarter off and not studying abroad in London. All of which stemmed out of complete fear of experiencing and attempting to survive more vulnerability than I could handle. With my most humble thanks, this summer I was surrounded by more love and support than I ever imagined I could receive, and the seed was planted in me that London is going to serve me a season of healing. I charged my way to California and lugged all my things to the basement so it would stay safe, and had a 48 hour reunion with my two closest friends. The following morning I walked to City Lights Cafe to get my last London Fog, sat on my porch, and waited for my ride to the airport. Shaking in my boots, two suitcases in hand, and alone, I navigated the airport and boarded that plane. A window seat. A 13 hour flight. An 8 hour time change. Tears flooded my eyes, and I let them fall as I thought about how desperately I needed a hug. How desperately I needed someone to know that I wasn’t alright. My tears fell as I thought about how relieved I was to remove myself from the west coast, from the United States. Tears sat in my eyes not ready to slide down my cheeks as I thought about starting anew. “Baby girl, have hope,” a dear friend told me. “Praus,” a wise friend told me. “Heal,” a tender friend told me. I arrived in London. Exhausted, but full of hope, praus, and ready to heal.

Can I Unpack Yet?

Maybe I just didn’t read the itinerary, but when I arrived to London, I was pleasantly surprised to be told I wouldn’t start classes for two weeks. This first week I was in London was mostly run by Arcadia University, the abroad program I am with. We stayed in a hotel in the heart of Central London just around the corner from West End theaters and the Tottenham tube station. Arcadia University recommended we do everything we can to stay up instead of nap our first day in the UK to combat our jet lag. Taking their advice, a group of us walked around Soho and found a pub. Realizing we are all legal in the UK, we all got a drink and ate together. This week was also the week I discovered the magic that is Primark. For those that don’t know, Primark is a clothing and home goods store that is outrageously inexpensive. I suppose you could say it’s an off brand Forever21 with Walmart prices. I bought some awesome pink loafers with a beautiful design on them for only £9!

As a part of the Arcadia orientation, other than going to a few mandatory seminars on UK history, the UK education system, and London culture and society, they made sure we experienced what London is known for. Arcadia University bought us all tickets to the award winning West End show, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. A new musical about a boy in school who embraces his queerness by becoming a drag Queen, Jamie is a musical that shows how eye opening, relevant, and honest theatre can be. Going to see Jamie was a unique, inspiring, and encouraging way to be introduced to my new home away from home. And as a side note, I accidentally ran into the actor who plays the title roll, Jamie, after the show! A quiet and sweet hipster, John McCrea was gracious enough to let me take a picture with him after I commended his raw and thrilling work on the stage that night.

Myself and John McCrea, Jamie in West End’s Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

After a week of being in a hotel, we were exhausted of living out of a few bags that we were conflicted about completely unpacking. Luckily, Arcadia kept us entertained enough with a huge self guided tour around the city to get us acquainted with the sites of London, and the different types of public transportation. Me and a friend jumped on a bus as the guide said to do, missed our stop, and ended up at St. Paul’s Cathedral! A magnificent site with rich history, we were already off course and decided it was a good sign that we should continue on our own. We walked over a bridge and stopped in the center to take a picture when I suddenly squealed to high heavens, jumped straight up into the air, and hugged my new friend as if I’d just seen a ghost. I had spotted the Globe Theatre. I yelled, “Look! It’s the Globe!” I had no idea The Globe was so close to the City of London, and was under the impression it was out in the middle of nowhere. Naturally, I sprinted over to the Globe and walked in to hear that a tour was to start in 20 minutes. We jumped on the opportunity and were able to spend time in the Shakespeare Museum, take a tour of the Globe, sit in on an equity rehearsal in the Globe Theatre itself, and run through the gift shop in search for something to prove we were there. It was surprisingly, slightly anti climactic. But I appreciated that. The Globe even in Shakespeare’s time wasn’t an impressive theatre to attend, which grounded me in an odd way. It somehow humanized Shakespeare a bit and humbled him as well. In that way, suddenly Shakespeare became much more accessible. Funny how simply understanding the truth and the reality of a life makes the legend and their work more relatable and meaningful.

Lastly, the week and the self guided tour ended with an accidental trip to the Borough Market which was only a few blocks away from the Globe. The fish and chips here were to die for, immediately melting in your mouth. The Borough Market is a beautiful representation of how London has stayed true to their rich cultural roots despite modern overground train routes and highways beginning to take over. Finally, the week was tied up with an eye opening and critical tour of the British Museum.

Mile End

After my first week in London, those of us attending Queen Mary University of London loaded up on a bus and made the trek to what soon would become our local neighborhood. The main QMUL campus where I am living and attending modules at is in Mile End in the borough of Tower Hamlets. Across the street from the panhandle of Victoria park and just a 15 minute bike ride from the London Olympic Stadium, Mile End got its name because it is exactly one mile east of the original City of London. Mile End is know for its rich culture and is celebrated as being one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in London, and in England. At QMUL, residence halls are all single rooms with a shared common area. I am on the second floor (floor one for Brits) of an apartment building right in the middle of campus. With a single room, I have my own bathroom and fridge, and share a huge kitchen with ten other flat mates. I have a wonderfully eclectic group of flat mates coming from all over the world including the United States, Denmark, Lithuania, Bristol, England, and more. Co-ed, we have become quite a tight nit group that I am so lucky to be a part of. The QMUL campus is exceptionally safe and vibrant, full of creative little nooks and crannies creating a funky study atmosphere that is wonderfully encouraging.

My first week in my new home was spent attending exceptionally repetitive and strenuously long mandatory “orientation” meetings. Not learning much from them, most of the information went through one ear and out the other as we all sat slightly confused about their use of our time. Despite slightly being left to our own devices, I managed everything really well and was proactive about my disability which impressed Queen Mary and the QMUL School of Drama.

Campus culture was fairly similar to Santa Clara University the first week or so of the semester. The pub life thrives, and I was surprised to see that QMUL has its own bar on campus, Drapers, on the other side of campus. This week was when I discovered the pub chain Wetherspoons in the UK. There are dozens of different types of Wetherspoons all around London and the greater UK, and it’s a cheap place to hang out and socialize with friends.

My first week at QMUL I used as an opportunity to fit in some sight seeing before classes started up. On Tuesday I actually met up with a dear friend of mine from Oregon who just happens to be studying in London at the same time I am! She lives just northeast of me in Hackney which is a really funky and up and coming neighborhood on the river Thames that reminds me a lot of Oakland, CA. We went out to dinner before I went off to Central London to see Lion King! A show I’ve always wanted to see, it’s exactly as I expected it to be. A spectacle of theatrical technology and design, it truly showcased the limitless nature and magic of theatre. On the ground floor in the orchestra seats that night was a royal family from an African country I wish I knew the name of. In a way, they were a spectacle themselves, especially during intermission as random tourists and theatre patrons attempted to take discrete pictures of the family. Respectfully, I didn’t take my phone out to take a pic, but I will say it was highly entertaining to watch others trying to be sly with their photos.

That Friday I went with the Arcadia group to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. I had no idea how magical this would be. I know this is a tourist trap, and it’s one of those “everyone has to do it” things when they come to London, but when you know that the site was the home of your ancestors, things change. My family tree starts with the Plantagenets, one of the first royal families to rule Britain. Holding on to that part of my family, it was stunning to walk through the Tower of London, the building that the Plantagenets called home. I walked through their bedrooms, their bathrooms, their common areas, realizing that I’m experiencing the foundation of my family, living and breathing the home that I come from. I was stunned and overwhelmed to see real Lion Heart shields everywhere. Previously, I had only seen the Lion Heart shield in history books and officially stamped and sealed on our official family tree that’s proudly hung up in my mom’s house. For the first time, I realized I was an immigrant. An immigrant to the United States. Where did I come from? For the first time, I realized I was home. Home in England. Home in London. Home at the tower. Home with my family I’ve never met but feel so intensely. Home where the first fathers and mothers of my family tree were killed in the field I could see out the window from the top floor of the tower. Home where members of my family were murdered. Home where my family’s blood was shed. Home where my family was born. Home where my family was celebrated. There were photos of the kings and queens that spent time in the Tower, generation after generation. Looking up at them, I saw the luscious locks of red curly hair that is now my wavy auburn. Looking up at them, I saw the ruthless warriors within themselves that my family still identifies with hundreds of years later. Looking up at them, I saw my mom. I saw my grandma. I saw me. I found my way home, and my home is still here. And it’s still alive.

Myself at the Tower of London, home of the Plantagenets.

A Better Kind of English

My first week of Junior year in London is in the books! So let’s get down to business, and get familiar with some British lingo.

US Classes = UK Modules and US Majors = UK Courses

The modules I am taking this semester are Making Contemporary Theatre, Contemporary World Cinemas, and London Performance Now. Making Contemporary Theatre is a module that is eight hours long! The first five hours is workshop based where we learn new ways to create contemporary theatre, and the last three hours is called Student Lead Practice (SLP) where it’s just us students leading our class through exercises and tasks we are asked to do on our own. Contemporary World Cinemas is a study of … Contemporary World Cinemas. I have a one hour lecture followed by watching a movie in class. Later in the week, I go to an hour long seminar with only a few other students, where we discuss the movie we watched and how it coincides with the lecture. London Performance Now is a module where we go out and see a different show each week, are asked to write about, and then come to a two hour seminar to discuss the show and the writing task. Overall, these modules are exceptionally immersive and stimulating, and I am beyond excited to see where they take me.

US Planner = UK Diary and US Cash Register = UK Till

I went shopping for a planner and spent way too long trying to figure out where the planners were. I eventually found my things, and walked to the till where the girl was surprised to hear my States accent. According to her, I look like I’m from Spain. I’ll take it.

US Fries and Chips = UK Chips and Crisps and US Grilled Cheese = UK Toastie

It was really late at night when a group of friends and I went walking around downtown for food and stumbled upon a “Toastie” shop. Not know what that was, we quickly realized from the menu that a toastie is a grilled cheese. I will say, something about the UK that I greatly appreciate is their wide range of sandwiches and toasties. There is so much to choose from, and they’re all delicious!

US Professors = UK Tutors, Lecturers, Seminar Leaders, Professors, and/or Convenors

I’m still confused on what to call my “professors” for lack of a better term. For Contemporary World Cinemas, I am taught by Ash, a passionate lecturer and seminar leader who is enthusiastic and excited about what he teaches. I can tell how much he enjoys what he does, and it makes me enjoy what I’m learning as well.

London Performance Now is a bit different. There are two Seminar Leaders for this module, Aoife (like sea-fuh without the “s”) and Martin, where I am taught by Martin. Martin, similarly to Ash, loves theatre and is currently working on his Masters while working as a professional sound designer in the West End. I’ve never had a dull moment in class with Martin. Both Aoife and Martin’s dedication to us as students is remarkable, as they’ve willingly met with me over coffee to work on my writing more than once! Making Contemporary Theatre is also taught by two Convenors, Martin (a different Martin) and Mojisola Adebayo. My group in class mostly spends time with Mojisola (we call her Moj), but we work with Martin a lot as well. Moj and Martin are very different and come from vastly different backgrounds as trained artists and performers. Because of Martin and Moj, Making Contemporary Theatre has been one of, if not, the most enriching, playful, and inventive class I have ever taken. And I humbly thank them for who they are, what they bring to the table, and the atmosphere they create for us.

As a part of London Performance Now, this week I saw Sketching at Wilton’s Music Hall, and as a part of Arcadia, I ventured over to tour Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace was a picture perfect representation of what you would imagine a palace to be, adorned with gold leaf paint, royal red carpets, marble pillars, crown molding and all. This week I also went walking through the massive Club Festival that the QMUL Student Union put on to get students involved on campus. From that, I ended up finding Queen Mary Dance Team, QM Shakespeare Society, QM Musical Theatre, QM Theatre Company, and Unite, a Christian bible study that also focuses in Gospel choir, theatre, and creative writing.

Fun Facts of Week 1

My bathroom will never be dry. My bed is hard and I desperately want to stretch out on my foam roller that is currently in the States. UK light switches are upside down. Each light switch has its own circuit breaker next to it. The States does a lot better at constructing binders, but UK folders are far superior. Driving on the left side of the road makes a lot of sense. British coffee is better. The drink “London Fog” ironically doesn’t exist in London. British tea is heavenly. The Brits know how to make a mean fish and chips. London public transportation is brilliant. Londoners’ favorite adjective is “loads” as in “there are loads of them out there.” “Sorry” and “cheers” have way more than one definition. Stand on the right side of the escalator. An elevator is a lift. The first floor is actually the second floor. Celsius makes a lot more sense than Fahrenheit. Pasties are delicious. So are ciders. Drug dealers have business cards and delivery services via mopeds. London has dumpster diving city foxes. J-walking is the only way Londoners cross the streets. It rains a lot less than people says it does, and umbrellas are stupid. Autumn is beautiful.

Take it Back Now, Y’all

The spring quarter of my sophomore year was just as much of a recovery from winter quarter as it was a monster of challenges all on its own. Spring time was filled with wrapping up the mess from winter, having a surprise of my lifetime, a load of rich and demanding class work, and thriving in what Santa Clara University may claim to be the largest scaled production ever attempted. For now, lets get academic.

A Heavy Plate. Or Two.

This quarter was comprised of an epically overloaded schedule for no good reason. I recently officially declared a minor in Urban Education, so one of the classes I took was Adolescent Psychology. Adolescent Psychology is pretty self explanatory and focused most on adolescent physical and cognitive development, education, substances, and parenting. My professor was the most entertaining scholar I have met and this was my first course that introduced me to collaborative academic writing which was actually quite challenging. What I enjoyed most was the “textbooks” interestingly enough, as well as gaining insight on the adolescent journey I have just taken through middle and high school. It was pretty fascinating and affirming to understand what happens within the families with adolescents and recognize for the first time a concrete cause for various things that happened to me in my middle and high school years.

My second class was the one and only … Spanish III. Surprisingly, Spanish III was much easier than Spanish I and II. The class was focused on learning the cultures of various Central and South American countries and putting together all the grammar learned in past courses. I had my same professor who had a baby in the middle of the quarter so the class was pretty relaxed and laid back. I have a lot of respect for my Spanish Professor. I would have never thrived or let alone survived this three part course without him. You may be moving on to a new job, but all of at Santa Clara University who were lucky enough to have you are exceptionally thankful for learning from you. I consider this a close to my foreign language chapter, at least for now.

Modern III was my third class, and I think it was one of the most affirming and rewarding dance class I have ever taken. Learning The Wave and gaining an eclectic and strong training in modern and contemporary dance was a journey of doubt and empowerment. I was challenged every single day, my strength and balance vastly improved, and my capacity and self assurance in mastering choreography grew. I have fallen in love with contemporary and modern dance as a language and its ability to transcend the mind and body. Despite it being an 8am class, I don’t ever regret going. Every time I walked out of the studio, I did so taller, lighter, and stronger. I dance for me. And it feels amazing.

My fourth course I took was a course I have been waiting to take since my first day at SCU; Dialects. It was a workshopping course full of play and discovery. Every moment of the class was packed with curiosity and humility, yet blanketed with grace and permission to fail. We cycled through studying Brooklyn, British, Irish, and a few other dialects and focused on their cultural and environmental history and placement in the mouth. This class reminded me the importance of consistent vocal training and floor work. I highly value everything I have learned and taken with me from this course, and the skills I have gained I will never forget or let go of.

Lastly, I had another round of Critical Perspectives which got a bit old quite quickly. It was nice to already know the ropes of the class, and part B went much smoother than part A. The topics were a bit more muddled and interwoven with one another, but were what I though to be much more relevant and accessible to theatrical discourse we are seeing today. We pulled through in this class, and out professor did not make it easy, but the improvement in my academic writing this year is due to this class, and I am thankful!

May I add, that as well as having private vocal lessons as always, I also continued to teach at Light It Up School of Ministry Infused Arts. I was ultimately blessed to watch the students grow, and truly understand how much of an influence I have on my students and their families. I was taken out to share meals more than once with my students’ families simply because of how much I have impacted their lives. All of this, completely stemming from giving back and teaching my passion. It would be an understatement to

This quarter was focused on not letting myself lose my my love for musical theatre because of what happened in the winter. I gained a stronger sense of self as an artist and hit a hard lesson from a professor that told me it’s okay to not get everything done. I remember the conversation we had as we ran into each other walking through the SCU rose gardens when she said, “I think you’re a finisher. You feel satisfied when you finished something, when you have a finished product.” And I thought, “Wow, you’re right. I’ve never thought about looking at my work ethic and creative process in that lens before.” Before we parted to our separate ways, she left me with, “Think about how you would feel about simply not finishing something. Letting it go. How would you feel? It’s okay sometimes to leave your ends untied.” This quick and spontaneous exchange refocused me as I gave myself permission to reprioritize. It felt good. It kept me from going insane. It reminded me of my strength. It put my life back on the track I thought I lost. Thank you.

Never Goodbye, Only See You Later

The creative and performance team of This Property is Condemned came together for one final gathering to commence our special and unique time of collaboration. From the simple things of the last car rides full of spontaneous laughter as if we’ve experienced life together for decades, to reminiscing by ritualistically moving the living room coffee table aside to set the stage, we began to say our goodbyes. Conversing over an array of food and drinks on a simply tray surrounded by plain but loved folding chairs, we chatted into the wee hours of the night about mindless audience members, our most favorite moments of theatre we created together, and future endeavors we were to all take part of soon. Although we are parting ways for the summer and fall, it won’t be long until we come together again. Hoping at least, for a collaboration producing Song of Solomon in as many venues as we can think of. Until next time friends, until next time.

Happy Birthday

As the quarter began, my birthday was fast approaching. A while back my grandma surprised me by getting me tickets to see my all time favorite vocalist, Mark Masri live in Central Oregon for my birthday. A few weeks before I turned the big 20, I was flown back to Oregon to see what I knew was going to be my most favorite event of the year. Oh, little did I know what was to come.

I am welcomed home and am told by my grandma and I’s dear friend Jackie that there were a few extra surprises waiting for me this weekend. Jackie told me when I arrived that my first of many surprises was that I wasn’t only seeing Mark Masri, I was going to be able to meet him. So, Saturday evening I went to the theatre and found Jackie who led me backstage. I walk into the wings and see Mark Masri standing at the grande piano looking at his laptop. Jackie leads me towards him, and to my surprise without a prompt he says, “Happy birthday, Skylar! How are you?” Well, my friends, I just about lost it right then and there. He already knew it was my birthday. He already knew I was coming. How? Who told him? I responded with an awe struck smile and said, “I’m doing GREAT.” Jackie asked me if I wanted to stay and watch Mark’s tech run through, and I quite obviously took the opportunity. Jackie took me into the audience and as we sat down, she smiled with a little smirk and said, “You have one more surprise. And you must say yes to it.” I remembering not having any idea what that meant, but the biggest surprise I could think of was Mark Masri singing happy birthday to me in front of the live audience at the concert. Oh boy did I underestimate the possibilities.

I am beyond thankful Jackie prepared me for what was to come next, because what came next changed my life. Beginning to run through Gift of a Mother’s Love, Mark Masri stopped himself and said, “Skylar, I remember you saying at the time that you did a dance to my song. Would you do it for my show? Tomorrow?” Shocked, I said, “Really?” Reassuring me that this was in fact reality, Mark said, “Yes, really. Why don’t we practice right now?’ Seconds later I found myself taking off my boots, pulling my hair up, rolling up my sleeves getting ready to improvise a 3+ minute long dance in front of the artist I look up to most. Tears falling down my eyes, sweat forming on my brow, I danced. “See you at 10:00am tomorrow? That’s when the band loads in.” And that was it. I was in the show.

I came home that night to my grandpa in the living room as always. I walk in dumbfounded and numb and say, “I can’t go to the show tomorrow. You have to give my ticket to someone else.” To my grandpa’s surprise he questions me with concern as my grandma walks in to overhear, to which I say, “Mark Masri put me in his show. I’m dancing for him.” Both of their jaws dropped. It was as if we won the lottery. It was a moment of pure joy none of us will ever forget. I went digging through my closet and managed to find the dress I used in high school to perform this dance, tried it on, and it fit perfectly. With costumes taken care of, I went on the search again for a very specific notebook I knew I wrote my choreography in when I originally did the piece three years ago. I found it. The choreography was awful. I suppose that shows I’ve grown as an artist, thank you university. Using the original as inspiration, I took to my grandma’s garage and re-choreographed the entire thing. And then I committed it to memory. 3am peaked its head and I was finally able to hit the bed.

The day of both shows roll around. I’m nervous guys. I get up early, eat as many eggs as I could handle, and drive over to the grocery store for makeup and athletic tape. I gather my things, get my Dutch Bros. Coffee (a requirement) and head to the theatre. It’s 9:50am. Always arrive early. I wander around the backstage halls searching for familiar faces. “Good morning, Skylar, how are you?” Asks Mark. “I’m … amazing. Thank you.” I’m lead to my dressing room. My own dressing room. My own floor to ceiling mirror, private bathroom, walk in closet, the works. My own seat in the makeup hall, my own water, my own program, my own towel. I was suddenly treated as an equal. I was an artists. And I was doing my thing. And I was respected. The black box was filled to the brim with fruit, veggie, and meat platters, and all the coffee, tea, and sweets you could imagine. As I was trained to do, I warmed up and stayed limber. I did my hair and makeup in my own space. I taped my feet. I caked the tape in foundation so it appeared as if I was barefoot. I sprayed my hair one more time for good measure. Then, I did a show. With Mark Masri. For an overflowing house. A dream I didn’t know I had, had come true.

And then we had dinner together. All of us together, sitting at the same table, eating the same food, charming stories. This is when I found out that Mark had wanted this to happen weeks before he even arrived to Oregon. The fact that someone like Mark would think of me, on his own, in the hopes I would share the stage with him? I still can’t comprehend it. Perhaps I underestimate myself. Regardless, show two was rolling around. I still couldn’t fathom what I was doing until I saw Mark leave for the stage, when I said, “Mark? Thank you. You have truly no idea how much this means to me.” With a water bottle in hand, on his way to the wings, he said, “No, thank you, Skylar. It is an honor to work with you.” He swept off. Yet right when I thought I was alone, he popped back around the corner to say, “Let’s do this again.” To my shock and amazement, I proudly said, “Well, you know where to find me.” And the show began.

This weekend changed my life. I still don’t have any words I can put together to give this story justice. But if anything, I learned what happens when you say yes. You discover how much faith you have. You are reminded how much you are loved. And you remember why you do what you do. To Mark Masri, thank you. You know where to find me.

The Pink Tsunami

I suppose you could call Santa Clara University’s production of the musical Legally Blonde just as overwhelming, but in such a different way. I auditioned for this show for two reasons. One: I heard the musical director for this show was from Hamilton. Two: I wanted to rekindle my love for musical theatre instead of defining it by my hell of a class from winter quarter. I don’t particularly like Legally Blonde as a musical or as a story, but regarding the reasons I was auditioning it didn’t matter what the show was, I was auditioning for it nonetheless. I knew I was never right for the show. I know this isn’t my type of musical. I felt awful at auditions and I felt humiliated at callbacks. I truly didn’t think I was going to get cast. Lo and behold, the list comes out and I get cast as Whitney, Courtney, and Chutney. Three characters I know nothing about. Granted, I know nothing about most of these characters. All I know is that I am the only ensemble member with an understudy, so I suppose I must have something substantial. I accept my roles gratefully as I’m humble to even be a part of the team. I try to ignore the comments from others which was on overwhelming amount of, “why weren’t you cast as a Delta Nu?” Beats me, I don’t know, ask the director. All I was happy about was that I made it into the number Whipped into Shape. Until I wasn’t.

There is one thing and one thing only that I hate about ensemble work. The entire rehearsal process feels like a six to eight week ruthless final callback. You’re constantly competing to be the best at a dance number in the hopes that you don’t get cut when tech week comes around. You never get to breathe. I don’t like it. I don’t think people thrive in that setting. Despite dreading going to every single dance rehearsal, I went. Despite holding in my anger over people who can’t read sheet music, I held my part. And despite not being a Delta Nu, I used what I was given and became much more.

I got stronger. I get more flexible. I gained exceptional control. I became a master at mapping and scoring scripts. I sharpened my sight reading. I discovered a new quality and power to my voice. I felt like a creator for the first time. I felt confident in my process for the first time. Legally Blonde requires confidence, and that’s what it gave me. Also, I finally understood why. I was cast in the track I was in. There was not a single moment I was not moving on or off stage. The only reasons I was not in a scene, not in a musical number, not in a dance, was because I was quick changing or dragging my set piece off stage. Partway through this show I thought I was being cut from everything. I was confused, upset, and didn’t understand why things were happening the way they were and I truly wanted to quit. The saving grace was music rehearsals that put me in my element and comfort zone as if I were back in choir. 2/3rds of the way through the rehearsal process, something interesting happened. I started to see how everything was falling into place, and I began to realize the worth there was to my track. The choreographer of the show came up to me as I was warming up one night and asked out of the blue, “Was dance your first love?” And although I hesitated, I said, “Yes, actually. I started with hula.” But what was amazing to me was her response when she said, “I can tell.” From that moment, I knew that I could trust and believe the push and pull I was feeling inside. From that moment forward, I knew I was capable, and that capability came from within. From that moment forward, I knew my worth, I knew what it required of me, and in an eye opening way, I finally realized I was qualified for the job.

Soon enough it’s tech week. Choreography is changing due to the reality of the set, harmonies are shifting due to imbalances, and blocking is being reworked because of the new elements of costumes, hair, and two dogs. At this point, I was loving every second of my time. Because I chose to actively work on myself, I rekindled my love of musical theatre. No one did it for me. No one inspired me. I did it by myself, for myself, and I gave myself permission to embrace it and be proud. The icing on the cake was seeing the production photos for the first time. My kicks were just as high as the others. My splits had one of the strongest extensions. I looked at these photos and thought, wow. I’m a dancer. I’m a singer. And I’m an actor. And it was this show that I truly believed it for the first time. Legally Blonde was the biggest storm that hit SCU theatre. But man did I thrive as a storm chaser.

Where did I go?

The last two quarters have been a whirlwind of experiences, and I could barely keep up with them.  The amount that I have grown in these last two quarters have been eyeopening and almost too much to handle sometimes.  Although blogs were on my mind the entire time, they were put on the back burner because my schedule allowed me little to no downtime, and when I was given the gift of free time, I spent most of it on movies with friends, cleaning my room, or rest.  But now that I am starting my next season in my life, I thought I would tie up my loose ends and get down in writing what I never want to forget: 2018 of my sophomore year of college.

It was THAT Quarter

You know how every college graduate says that at one time or another, you are eventually going to have that professor that just becomes a living nightmare?  Well, I have officially stumbled upon said professor and am proud to say that after a grueling quarter of wasted class time, staying up for 36 hours straight during finals, and enduring a hostile work environment, I survived!  Let us summarize week by week:

Week 1: Willie

This week I auditioned for what is now one of my most beloved projects I have worked on of all time, This Property is Condemned by Tennessee Williams.  Over winter break I received an email from a professor that asked if I was willing to audition for a role that might just be perfect for me, and I thought I probably shouldn’t pass that up!  Little did I know that I would audition and sit through an interview that seemed more like coffee with an old friend and get offered the lead role on the spot.  Monday of week 1 I was cast as Willie and I worked with the most intimate and creatively intellectual team I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  Co-star Drew D, and director Mark Larson were my saving graces of the quarter whether they knew it or not.  Every rehearsal was a reminder of why I do what I do, and what I aim to continue to foster in the future.  I loved this team and will drop everything to collaborate with them again.

Week 2: Yikes

This week I officially severed my ties with my student clinic on campus!  Hurray!  On Wednesday I was overhydrated and give over TWICE of what I usually get and ended up going to the emergency room because I had three times as much fluid in my body than I should have! YAY.  That was my last straw with my student clinic and it was one of the most anger-inducing yet gratifying choices I made this year to give them up.  Also, Friday of this week was my first of many meetings with my professor from hell.  Whoo.

Week 3: Light It Up

We had an earthquake this week and I’m already behind in my classes!  Did I mention that I was teaching at Light it Up School of Ministry Infused Arts?  This was the most empowering and special thing I decided to do this quarter.  Teaching and making a curriculum from scratch on my own for the very first time was a humbling experience for sure but it was absolutely wonderful.  I have so much love for my LIU family and the children that we had the gift of working with.  The bonds with these young artists that I have formed were overwhelmingly inspiring.  I have never felt so lifted up and blessed beyond words and I am so grateful I was welcomed into this family and valued.

Week 4: Go Equity!

I was in three shows this quarter! While rehearsing for This Property is Condemned at night, I was rehearsing for The Circuit in the day with TheatreWorks of Palo Alto.  The Circuit was my first experience working alongside equity actors and it was my first opportunity to apply my professional skills and get a taste for what I need to work on and what I have already mastered fairly well as a performer.  I was pleasantly reminded that equity actors are just humans and it gave me great confidence that I could and should continue to make professional acting a career.  As a matter of fact, this quarter gave me the ability and credentials to officially say that I am a professional working actor, which I’m still stunned and overjoyed that I have FINALLY made my dream a real possibility.  I’m getting paid to do what I love and when people ask me “what do you want to do when you graduate?” I can officially say, “I’m already doing it.”

Week 5: Mayhem

This was an unusually slow week that involved me sleeping a LOT.  I also took my midterm for my class from the dark side and the entire class went out for drinks afterward which should tell you how unnecessarily taxing, stressful, and absurd it was for us.  After all, I believe every student in class at this point had experienced a panic attack during class time.  Now that’s saying something.  But on the bright side, there were two classes that I absolutely thrived in and loved.  Theatre from the Black Perspective is I think a class that every single theatre student at Santa Clara University should be required to take.  I finally felt my thoughts and words valued and gracefully challenged to make myself understand how I can use my privilege to respect, empower, and lift up those less privileged than I.  Before I came into this class I had no idea how I could engage in social justice without overstepping or unintentionally telling others stories instead of giving people a platform to tell their own stories.  My greatest fear was stealing someone’s voice in the midst of trying to let them tell their story on their own.  I have learned how to actively listen and honor what others have to say, and this class has taught me more about the human race than any other class I’ve taken.  I’ve also read some stunning and amazing plays.

Week 6: W. Kamau Bell

This week I met W. Kamau Bell which was hilarious and fascinating.  Little did I know that his wife was a student and professor here at one point and was one of the founders of Teatro Catalina!  Kamau Bell is TALL and taught me ways in which I can have an open and deep dialogue with people of differing views on difficult and controversial topics.  Something fun was that I got to skip a day of Critical Perspectives to meet W. Kamau Bell because frankly, Critical Perspectives got a bit boring.  It’s pretty much a less fascinating version of American Theatre from the Black Perspective and having taken both classes at the same time, CP was pale in comparison to Black Perspective.  It looks like I got a solid amount of sleep this week. Good stuff.

Week 7: The Real Americans

This week I saw a riveting show called The Real Americans. It is a one-man show who portrays over 20 people whom he interviewed and stayed with as he traveled all over the United States in rural communities.  It was utterly fascinating and my jaw was dropped the entire time.  I have never seen such skilled, precise, exceptional, and engaging physical acting ever, and all this actor needed was a chair and a few hats and jackets.  It. Was. Jaw dropping.  This week is when things started getting pretty out of control and physically and mentally unhealthy in regards to the class that shall not be named.  At this point, the entire class had gone to both our professor and the chair of the department at least 5 times to get little to no help or change whatsoever.  We had no voice and it was absolutely awful.  We did everything right and got nothing in return.  Everyone refused to take our word as true and no one understood exactly how abusive and hostile of a reality we were all in because no one could possibly swallow that something like that could possibly happen at SCU.  Thankfully, one of my most favorite professors of all time was teaching one of my classes, Defining the Performing Artist, and she believed us.  SO this week I had breakfast and vented to her on Wednesday.

Week 8: San Quentin Prison

I had both of my shows going through tech week this week and it was pure mayhem!  This week I also had the life-changing opportunity to teach Shakespeare at San Quentin Prison with the prisoners themselves.  First of all, the dress code was so strict I literally had nothing to wear.  Eventually, I found something, but it was hard.  When I got there early in the morning I was absolutely terrified second guessing myself and asking how in the world I can work with prisoners as a young attractive 19 year old.  Well these prisoners greatly humbled me.  These men were the most polite men I have met.  These men were the most open-minded people I have met.  These men, although predators, were the most loving people I have met and most eager to learn.  I have never seen people so absorbed by Shakespeare and so enthusiastic about challenging themselves.  I asked them if there was one thing I could tell the world about prisoners.  They told me this: We are only humans and we are so much more than our mistake.  We have children.  We have partners out there.  Some of us just became grandparents and have never met our grandchildren.  We are people and when we serve our time we deserve to have our rights and lives.

And it’s true.  And I am humbled.

 Week 9: Audition Grind

This is the week I auditioned for Legally Blonde! the mainstage musical of spring quarter.  Let me tell you, the auditions and callbacks were both empowering and absolutely brutal.  It was interesting to constantly wonder where you are in the running and going back and forth between “I’m absolutely going to be a part of this show” and “I seriously don’t think they’re going to cast me in this show.”  So my advice to you is don’t let yourself get to that point!  There are going to be a LOT of people, a lot of close friends, who are going to want to have a glass of wine and talk it to death.  I advise you not to do this.  Takes notes on what you can improve on, and be damn proud of yourself for your performance.  No one else can do what you did out there, and no one can take that away from you.  If you’re looking for some guidance on what to do instead of not do, I’d advise you to immediately distract you by doing something else that occupies your mind and time.

Week 10: Sleeping In

This is when the third show I did came about.  I was the Clown in Mr. Grump and the Clown in a children’s show.  I almost wasn’t because the day of our show (we blocked, memorized and put together the 45 minute show in 36 hours) we were going to do a run through before the children came.  But!  My alarm didn’t go off and I slept in for 2 HOURS.  So I woke up to a cast member knocking on my door to wake me up and we sprinted across campus to the theatre.  I got into costume and hair as quick as possible, we got everything set up, and the kids arrive 15 minutes later. I have never been so shocked with myself in my life and I felt SO bad.  But I did what I needed to do, we left it at all at the door, and the kids absolutely loved the show.  It was amazing and so inspiring to see three and four year olds coming up to you with wide eyes and a huge smile saying that this was their first play.  It’s humbling to know that this will be their first memory of theatre.  We set their expectation and I know they left eager for more.  This was also the week when I auditioned for The Glass Menagerie and the director of Glass and the director of Legally Blonde fought over me.  I would say that’s a pretty nice confidence boost the week before finals week.

Finals Week: Nica!

Finals week is where the verdict came out!  I was cast as Whitney, Courtney, and Chutney in the spring mainstage musical Legally Blonde! the Musical.  I was really excited to accept that lead ensemble track, but little did I know the pink tsunami was going to come and go so fast.  On Friday, I and a team of others went off to Nicaragua for Teatro Catalina!

That’s a Wrap

Well, that’s the short version of my winter quarter of my sophomore year.  Overall, it was taxing, to say the least, but only because I was forced to spend an insurmountable amount of time suffering over one class.  If there is any time I have tasted a tad bit of hell, I would have done so in this dang class.  After the final of that class, I believe every single one of us went to have a drink together.  That class tore every single one of us down to our bare bones and we crawled out by the skin of our teeth, my friends.  But I will say that I truly learned what grit was and finally understood how much of it I have.  The people in that class got very close and I will always appreciate how much we stood up and protected each other through the process because each and every day in class was a traumatic experience.  It really was.  What came after it was finally victory, and I don’t believe this person is back this year.  But it also came with lingering anxiety and my first anxiety attack ever in Benson, our university cafeteria.  But that story is soon to come next quarter.


June – August 8: Assistant Choreographer, Assistant Director, and Fight Director for Hunchback of Notre Dame with Starstruck Theatre Company in Fremont, CA

August 4 – August 8: Internship with San Francisco playwright Brian Thorstenson for his new play’s workshop in preparation for its world debut in October in San Francisco, CA

August 9 – August 13: Train ride up to Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my mom and grandma to see four shows, reunite with friends, and support the 2018 Summer Seminar Swan Song in Ashland, OR

August 14 – August 26: Back in Central Oregon to appear in Jesus Christ Super Star in Bend, OR

August 27 – September 10: Back to the Bay Area to prepare for London! September 11: Flight to London, England!


Week 1 Was Actually Quite Overwhelming

But by the looks of my handy dandy bullet journal (that was a Blues Clues reference for all you who aren’t millennials) tells me otherwise. It is a bit of a barren week. I will say I had a surprisingly heavy load of homework for week one, but I managed! Actually, it seems to me as if I just procrastinated like a classic college student does. I was doing something late at night on Thursday because it says here that I was moving through Friday with 5 ½ hours of sleep under my belt. What fun. Sunday, I went to church in heels forgetting it was a 2-mile walk from the train station. Not one of my finest moments. But what was funny about that, was that after service I was on my way walking to Kepler’s Books (a bookstore) and I hear my name yelled from afar. Aunt Lindsey, her husband, her baby, and her little on Gracelynn were all packed in the car at a red light! You know you’ve become a local when you know people on the street.


Let Me Just Tell You How Rad My Classes Are

Because they’re all FANTASTIC. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I am taking “American Theatre from the Black Perspective,” “Defining the Performing Artist,” and “American Musical Theatre History.” On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am taking “Theatre To Go” and “Critical Perspectives in Performance A.” Tuesdays I also have vocal lessons, and Thursdays I also Peer Educate LEAD Seminar. I’m also technically taking “Production Workshop” on Wednesdays but it’s in order to get credit for being the Assistant Stage Manager for Welcome to Claradise a year ago, so I don’t actually have to show up to that class. Like ever. Shall I explain all these awesome classes? I think I shall.


Halloween Was a Thing That Happened

Halloween is tough for all of us theatre students, especially those of us involved in the mainstage show of the fall quarter which is actually a lot of us! This is a bit of a shame considering I think that us theatre students do Halloween best! So of course, we all know Halloween feel on a Tuesday night which meant we all had a dress rehearsal to attend! Instead of missing out on the festivities of dressing up, which we do best, we celebrated the Friday before at the Globe theatre house. Naturally, I went as Stitch and Meleah my best friend, soul sister, right-hand man, and another half went as Lilo! Because Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. And also, because no one else in the theatre or dance department could have pulled it off as well as we did. I’m pretty sure we were the life of the party! (more…)

Crash Course on the Month of October

So if you didn’t notice, I dropped off the face of Newsletter land during week five of last quarter! My apologies! Of course, I never want to leave you out so here is a crash course of what I remember from the last two weeks of October, which were weeks 5 and 6. Week 5 I applied to go on the Theatre Department’s spring break immersion trip, Teatro Catalina, in Nicaragua which is pretty much giving the Catalina community a week-long festival of theatre. My schedule says I “literally slept all day” on October 21st and that I saw a wonderful Sam Shepard show in San Jose on Sunday of week 6. Funny story about that show: Emma (my roommate) and I walked to the show from dinner and google maps took us in a 2-mile circle back to the restaurant. We were both in heels. We found our way! On the weekend of week 5, I got to see the premiere screening of Night Skies, the short film I worked on with Aldo! It was a huge success, and Aldo pulled me onstage without telling me ahead of time. I had a modeling gig in the middle of week 6! I also had tech week of The Foreigner during week 6! No wonder I didn’t get a newsletter out.


Why Did I Disappear During Weeks 3 & 4?

I’m sort of writing back in time as my newsletters progress, and so I had to look back at weeks 3 and 4 in my planer to remember what in the world I was doing. Well, my planner explains a LOT. In two weeks I counted 68 assignments under all my To Do lists during week 3 and 4. And this was also the same time I was performing in San Francisco and rehearsing for The Foreigner all at the same time. If that doesn’t explain how crazy sophomore year started out, I don’t know what would.


But Really, That’s Exactly What Happened

The day after Peter and the Starcatcher came to a close, I packed my bags (and my grandma’s car) in one night and left at 5am to fly away on a plane. Bless the weather and functioning aircrafts because there wasn’t a single delay! That was a huge relief because the minute I walked off the plane I called an uber, rode it straight to Santa Clara University, lugged my bags into Unity Commons, dropped them at my feet, I was greeted with a binder, and I went straight into a 3-hour meeting for LEAD. What a great and chill “welcome back” right? It sure elevated my heart rate!