Author: Ha (Millie) Le

Delightfully chaotic,
Such a ‘Bler: Moving Out

Such a ‘Bler: Moving Out

Yes, I have officially moved out of the campus dorms. Why you ask? I simply wanted to. 

The dorms were more than I could have asked for, both freshman and sophomore year. But I think it is time that I venture out on my own. I want to separate my time on and off campus more, really allowing myself to be completely away from school when I need to be, as well as motivate myself to see different parts of the city instead of gravitating to those closest to my dorm. Apartment hunting itself was certainly already a journey. It seems that staying close to the Redline is the best bet. Despite the above, I still wanted a space near enough to our main campus but not too far from the downtown campus because of my Communication Studies major. 

My new roommates were big help. We all actually met at Mertz Hall freshman year. I lived with one and stayed close with the other during sophomore year. Signing our lease for junior fall and spring, I felt even more grateful for the two years I did spend in the dorms because it made housing plans when I landed on the decision to move out for junior and senior year less daunting. 

Am I nervous? Somewhat. Mainly because I’ve heard a lot from upperclassmen about how the commute time can be tough. I’ll also miss the convenience of the dining halls now that I’ll have to make my own breakfast, pack lunch and plan dinner. These are definitely two clear advantages of living on campus, especially for an individual who is often late like myself. Perhaps this decision is a new way for me to explore time management. Besides, from what I’ve seen, Loyola really knows how to organize great commuter celebratory events! 

I hope this short insight helps any inquiries you have about moving out. Get ready for a lot of new commuter content! Here comes Junior year, and here’s to a new chapter. 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: My Internship Hunt (Sophomore Year)

Such a ‘Bler: My Internship Hunt (Sophomore Year)

This is a story about a girl who thought she wouldn’t make it. 

I knew I wanted an internship this Summer, and I had been preparing since the last. My website, my resume and my research were all set. I then tackled cover letters, letters of recommendations, writing samples and interview simulations as deadlines approached. I was ready, and I was, but not for rejection. 

I will say that part of my calm was thanks to a recommendation from a theatre professor. Having worked there, she really did put in a good word for me. However, I also had a chip of naivety on my shoulder. Up until this, I had never applied for anything non-academic. I had always either founded the organization and was recruiting or got invited for the position. I was yet prepared for the unpredictable reasons behind a “no.”  

I submitted two applications and both of their interviews, though in person, were at B+ level. I waited and not long after received one blunt wave and an invitation to reapply. Perhaps this postponed welcome hurt most because both they and my professor saw a great fit. And though I was in the top two, it was just not my time. I guess that’s something they don’t always tell you about the application process. No matter how great of a fit, there’s a time for everything. Summer internships are highly competitive. That single spot, belonged to someone else this season, a senior, and maybe at a later date, to me.  

Regardless, I was still happy that I submitted to two of the biggest theatres in Chicago despite it only being my second year in the theatre world. It was a long shot, but I made it pretty far. So was I going to stop there? No. I continued to apply! Chicago is a big theatre city, and my professor encouraged that there are still plenty of companies out there, big and small, that would want me. I continued to research and ask for more input from upperclassman ‘blers. I switched recommendation letters and resume components to adhered more to the specific internship. 

My next interview was over the phone. I improved from all my past fidgeting. I used the two rejections as learning experiences and gave this application my all. And now here I am – the new Artistic Administration/Dramaturgy Intern at Lookingglass Theatre Company. But more on that later. 

Good luck. 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: I’m a Dramaturg!

Such a ‘Bler: I’m a Dramaturg!

Each semester, there is an application sent out within the theatre department for production positions. This includes assistant stage managers, dramaturgs, assistant costume designers etc. The positions range from staff directed shows in the Newhart Family Theatre to student led Second Stage Laboratory Show in the Underground Theatre. I had been eyeing this procedure for a while but never had the courage to submit one myself. After being accepted to be a part of We Are the Hopeful, the 2-week Second Stage Design-Led Exploration about mental Health, I eventaully did. Then I grew speechless once again upon receiving the decision letter. I am the Dramaturg for Fun Home the musical in the Newhart Family Theatre this Spring 2020. And it feels so exciting to announce so. 

It means a lot that I was chosen for this position because I never regarded myself too special within the department. I am only a theatre minor afterall. To that, I have been told countless times by both professors and theatre majors that this isn’t a factor taken into consideration. It’s really about how much passion and commitment you pour into your work. And from what they’ve noticed, I really deserve it.  

I will be working very closely to the professors during this time, and will have one credit hour fulfilled. The director for Fun Home will be Mark Lacoco, the head of the theatre department at Loyola. He and my previous Dramaturgical Structure and Theatrical Process professor, Kelly Howe will be my two mentors for this adventure. I’m extra happy because Kelly was actually one of my biggest inspirations towards applying for this position. Her DSTP course got me completely hooked on dramaturgy. I also find this position a good way for myself a playwright to learn how to create a clearer and more unique world within a play. 

So far my tasks include closely reading both the musical’s script and its original root – the graphic novel written by Alison Bechdel. I will be assisting other departments in collecting clues to create an accurate, yet innovative world portrayed in these texts. I will be sitting in many meetings with the director, assistant director and designers of the show to come. 

It is Summer now and our next meeting is at the end of July, but I am exciting to take you along this journey with me. Big things are coming. Happy reading! 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: WE ARE THE HOPEFUL

Such a ‘Bler: WE ARE THE HOPEFUL

As mentioned in my previous post, We Are the Hopeful is a 2-week Second Stage Design-Led Exploration about mental health. Second Stage Shows are student proposed projects that run for either 2 weeks, 5 weeks or 12 weeks and are performed in the basement of Mundelein – a rather smaller but cozier space compared to the Newhart. This does have its benefits and has proven to allow a large extent of creativity and experimentation for the students as it is a black box theatre space. 

We Are the Hopeful was created by sophomore Molly Cornell, a fellow Sophomore majoring in Theatre and minoring in WSGS and Studio Art. And I feel so so blessed to have been given the opportunity to work alongside her on this incredible project!  

HERE IS SOME MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHOW: http://artsevents.luc.edu/event/9f3b5c0cfccaf3db5839902bacce5faa 

Within two weeks, nine designs scripted, directed and designed seven performances each touching on a different area of mental health. Lab and rehearsal times took place both after class hours and on the weekends. My partner was sophomore Gianni Carcagno – a very very talented designer – and our piece “playing pretend” focused on Derealization Disorder. Derealization Disorder is the repeated perception or experience that the world around you is not real. It is the feeling of being ‘not there.’ The piece consisted of three experiential spoken word poems written by me and was recited by freshman Faith Hood amongst atmospheric and stimulating sound and lighting design. We crafted a piece of abstraction, in hopes to introduce a less talked about reality.  

Other topics, including anxiety and eating disorders, were explored through movement, personal writings, and even audience participation to create the feeling of claustrophobia. It means a lot that we got this opportunity to not only raise awareness about a topic so often stigmatized but also explore our relationship with it as humans and artists ourselves. 

We had the chance to tinker with a lighting and sound board and their respective design programs. We were visited by our design professors as well as other professionals in the lighting and sound design fields. We got to audition and work with enthusiastic theatre majors and non-theatre major performers. But most of all we all stepped out of our comfort zones. Many of us were freshmen or production newbies who had never come close to cue sheets let alone a tech board. I personally am a playwrighting and directing focused theatre maker. Design wise, I was more experienced in costume and sound design coming into the project. Although I was lucky to work with an experienced tech master like Gianni, we coordinated so that we were both exploring new areas. I took on the challenge of lighting design – a venture I had also found less comfort in during the Design II class I was taking during this same semester. 

This was probably one of the most challenging experiences for me as a writer AND DESIGNER (!!!!) I spent many days simply sitting by the lighting board, turning on and off every single light and relearning techniques. I felt quite overwhelmed at times but with these talents, their patience, silliness and encouragement, it felt also rewardingly comforting. I never saw fear in asking for help. And I felt less absent. 

Dissociation isn’t a new friend of mine, and I am grateful for this exploration because art is what keeps me present when I feel like I am not. I’m still learning about derealization disorder – I hope you are too. 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: Teamo

Such a ‘Bler: Teamo

There was this time during my senior year of high school when mum went to Europe for a month-long business trip. I lived off of occasional dinners I’d cook for my dad and brother, but mainly bubble tea (how am I still alive?) So you could tell how ecstatic I was when Loyola announced the brief visit of Te’amo Boba Bar. 

Don’t get it wrong, I love the drink available from campus – everything from the best coffee at Center Stage Café in Mundelein College to healthy smoothies at Rambler Express. I often go to Tbaar if I had a specific craving, which was only a ten-minute walk from campus. This is fine, but less convenient during busy back to back class days. Hearing that bubble tea would now be available at Rambler Express was some exciting news.  

Te’amo is very different from any bubble tea brand I’ve had in Chicago thus far. It currently comes very close to Bingo Tea (my favourite, that’s all the way in Chinatown.) Appearance and variety wise, it is superior. The staff were also very friendly and quick even with the tsunami of excited students. It also gave me more reason to pass by the Damen Student Center – a hot spot I spent much of freshman year in but rarely visited now that I live on the other side of campus. 

I also appreciate that there was an appearance of a more traditionally Asian treat on campus, even if it was only for a little while. I get quite excited to hear thoughts from my non-Asian friends whenever they try a new flavour and being able to tell them all that I know about it. What really surprised me was that this pop up was so well greeted by our campus that the partnership actually ended up getting extend til the end of the academic year! 

I’m not sure if Te’amo will be back Fall 2019, but I do hope so. I heard it may be an added feature of one of our new dorms?? But if your cravings are like mine, here’s where you can find it for now! 

  1. Lao Sze Chuan restaurant bar area, 520 Michigan Avenue 
  1. 1115 E 55th St 

Teamo. 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: Summer in the City

Such a ‘Bler: Summer in the City

Hi there, it’s my first Chicago summer! 

I’ve successfully secured an Artistic Administration/Dramaturgy internship at Lookingglass Theatre for the next three months, an apartment for junior year and am beyond ecstatic to continue sharing my Loyola lens with you. It took some time but since orientation, I’ve been told that I NEED to spend at least one summer in the city. Without the chills and snow, Chicago is a completely different scene. Towards the end of sophomore year, I already spotted tulips blooming everywhere! More importantly, despite living right next to it, I’ve only gone to the beach twice in my two years at Loyola. And that is unacceptable. 

There’s a huge line up of summer events as well, including the Chicago Blues Festival, Lollapalooza, Chicago Food Truck Festival, Chapter II of the WNDR Museum, Volta Cirque Du Soleil, Les Miserable’s Chicago showtimes and Pride Fest! (Honestly, you yourself should spend a summer in the Chicago!!!!!) 

I compiled my list from the links below. Make your own list and make this summer the best yet! And if you’re away, you can still get to see plenty of action through my upcoming blogs right here. I can’t promise that I will be attending every single event, but I am on a mission to experience as many as I can. Who knows when my next summer here will be? 

  1. https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/reich/ct-ent-fest-schedule-1030-story.html?fbclid=IwAR2sMYdLI_Rc4D1Jzbp6ljSpEYimrLtJP3YRifKg4m0Udo59iAZv3REypbw 
  1. https://www.facebook.com/events/565127213958979/ 

I also plan to do a lot of throwbacks to sophomore year. I know I disappeared for a while, but a lot of exciting things still greeted me in the last few months and I still want to share them with you. For instance, MY HAIR IS PINK! WHAT?????? 

Speak soon. Happy Summer! 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: Goodbye Marquette South

Such a ‘Bler: Goodbye Marquette South

It’s odd how much one can feel looking back at a simple little room.  

I remember asking “Am I ready 1806?” leaving Mertz Hall as a freshman. However, I somehow felt heavier leaving my sophomore dorm this May. Perhaps it is because I’ve grown a lot more – experiencing and not experiencing a lot more. Frankly I spent the majority of my second year at Loyola in this space (also frankly because it had majority of what I needed – bed room, study room, kitchen room, bathroom.)  

As a sophomore you also have more say over your time. Being well aware that your schedule is now more hectic, and your mind is more independent, RAs are more flexible with bonding activities. I appreciate the occasional round ups and applaud the life-saving snack carts. My favourite is the announcement boards that seemed to tap right into what I craved each turn (spots to explore in Chicago, internship hunt tips and self-care reminders.) There was a very comfortable and supportive relationship. 

MS 509 was so perfectly placed on campus. Seven minutes away from Mundelein and three from DeNobili Dining Hall. The Granville Station also lived close, along with Aldi and the mail room. I’d also find myself at Summer Noodles or Dak if I didn’t feel like cooking. Though cooking was a lot of what I did.  

I didn’t get out much. I didn’t want or really had to. Perhaps such luxury can be rather dangerous. 

I used to beat myself up for friending such a comfortable spot but thinking back now, I have little regrets. It was a nice hideaway place and I’m no longer shy to admit that I needed one. Sophomore year isn’t easy. You always feel like you should be and/or could be doing more. I really pushed myself this year with 18 credit hours, an on-campus job, a theatre 2-week exploration and an e-board position in Diminuendo Literary and Arts Magazine. Sometimes a hibernation day or a dorm cooked meal alone is needed. 

I am grateful. But farewell 509. I’m ready. 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: Being in My First Theatre Design Project | SECOND STAGE LABORATORY

Such a ‘Bler: Being in My First Theatre Design Project | SECOND STAGE LABORATORY

WE ARE THE HOPEFUL!  (That is the name of the first 2-Week Second Stage Show that I will be involved in.)

Second Stage Shows are student proposed projects that run for either 2 weeks, 5 weeks or 12 weeks and are performed in the basement of Mundelein – a rather smaller but cozier space compared to the Newhart. This does have its benefits and has proven to allow a large extent of creativity and experimentation for the students as it is a black box theatre space. 

We Are the Hopeful was created by Molly Cornell, a fellow Sophomore majoring in Theatre and minoring in WSGS (the bright eyes you see at the bottom.) And I feel so so blessed to have been given the opportunity to work alongside her on this incredible project! HERE IS SOME MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHOW ( GET YOUR TICKETS!!!): http://artsevents.luc.edu/event/9f3b5c0cfccaf3db5839902bacce5faa  

Our team of designers gathered in the theatre library on the 13th floor of Mundelein for the very first meeting! The actual 2-week doesn’t begin until April 1st but it was important that we got to know each other as well as began finalizing ideas for the pieces that will be showcased in the show. This way, the 2-week period can be filled with the actual intense designing process! After homemade cookies, zodiac sign reveals and way too many inside jokes, it felt like we were really a family. It also isn’t wrong to say that we were already coming into this project because of the vulnerability and optimism of the focus. I personally really appreciate the department’s decision to allow Molly to direct such an idea because it gives the exploration of such a personal topic more inviting. 

I can’t tell you much yet, but stay tuned for many behind the scenes snippets and progress updates!!!  Stay hopeful.

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST:

Such a ‘Bler: A Poet’s Acting Career (SO FAR) | THTR: 266: Acting I Midterm

Such a ‘Bler: A Poet’s Acting Career (SO FAR) | THTR: 266: Acting I Midterm

Here is a story of how a writer of words learnt to perform the words (I’m honestly shook that I made it out of there alive.)

I am a theatre minor and have been in a THTR 266: Acting I for just over half of a semester now. It has been a rollercoaster because I’ll have days where I’m really exciting to go to class and days, I’m a bit more stressed about being present. Those more nervous days are ones where I have to perform my assigned scene. You see, I am a not much of an actress, a performer maybe, but I am more on the route of a director/playwright in the theatre department. And this week, my midterm rolled around the corner.

I played Corie from Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park and honestly, IT WAS NOT THAT BAD! My scene partner was a guy who has always been based in electrics. During our first rehearsal outside of class, the first thing he said to me was “I am a technician.” I was glad we were on the same page with the assignment because the next thing he said was “I just want to memories my lines and do this exactly how it was meant to be done.”

A few weeks and little scraps of rehearsal time here and there, we crammed two hours in the night before our midterm.  We finally had our lines (almost) down and agree on a simplified rendition of the divorce scene in which Corie throws a shoe at her husband Paul (you really should read the play, it’s quite a treat.)  And well, the next 10:30am morning, we were in front of the class and ready(ish) to go!

We ended up forgetting some lines, but eventually helped each other pull through in a fashion that made our professor, Jonathan Wilson, question “Where did you learn that from?” Frankly, I was quite flattered but also knew that despite not being an actress myself, I’ve had experience directing actors through my scripts and honestly that was probably the reason (other than JW’s incredibly patient coaching) that helped me pull off the scene. Other than an awkward pause in the middle and our unspoken decision to skip two pages of the scene in order to make it through smoothly after that awkward pause in the middle, our professor and classmates applaud the relationship to be very believable! In fact, the only thing wrong with the scene was our lack of rehearsal. I was quite pleased, and VERY PROUD because though we had some scratches here and there, the performance was overall enjoyable aND ACTUALLY GOT SOME LAUGHS!

I guess acting isn’t too daunting anymore (though lines still feel like science equations) and I feel a lot braver after the first half of this course. I also came away with a lot more respect and patience for actors as a director and playwright because after rolling through Neil Simon’s word maze, I understand the importance bUT ALSO THE CHALLENGE that is remember very VERY specific lines. I myself write super specific lines and will be sure to give more props to those who can remember them. It really is just as important to learn in front as it is to learn behind the stage, even if that isn’t where you idealistically want to be.

Here’s to more acting adventures (maybe.)

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST:

Such a ‘Bler: Failure: A Love Story by Alumni Philip Dawkins

Such a ‘Bler: Failure: A Love Story by Alumni Philip Dawkins

At the beginning of this semester, my design professor Rachel Healy recommended that I applied for a design position on Failure: A Love Story – a play written by Loyola University Chicago’s alumni, Philip Dawkins. She then recommended that I auditioned for the play. I did audition, and being not much of an actress, did not get casted (it’s okay I saw it coming, but HEY AT LEAST I CAN SAY THAT I FINALLY AUDITIONED FOR SOMETHING!) and had too much on my plate this semester to join the design team.

The reason Rachel was so excited to get me involved was because the show featured music, beautiful costumes and PUPPETS! Context: Rachel was my Storytelling Design via Puppetry Spring Semester of freshman year. Rachel then became my theatre mentor and well, she knew I couldn’t resist a production with both music and puppets. Leading up to opening night, images from the show popped up all over Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts’ socials and I regretted more and more about not being able to contribute to the production. This especially kicked in the night I was going to see the show.

Before the performance, I and other theatre students got the chance to chat with him. He actually got inspiration for this plot from a night at a cemetery with a group of friends. They found a bunch of tomb stones all having the last name “Fail” and became both curious and convinced that he needed to write a play about them. What had happened to the Fail family? Hearing this really showed me that inspiration can come from really anywhere, at any time! 

(READ MORE ABOUT THAT IN MY OTHER BLOG POST) http://blogs.luc.edu/uao/2019/02/27/such-a-bler-pizza-with-the-playwright-alumni-phillip-dawkins/ 

Sitting down to watch the play, I tried to not keep too much of this information in mind, but I guess in a way it made me understand the theme of the piece more – as well as made me wayyy more emotional. I was simultaneously giggling because I’d actually never seen the use of puppets before. The huge snake that my classmate from Design II made was controlled by two actors at one point. They danced and swerved the puppet up and down in order to mimic the slithering motion of the creature – it was incredible. Other puppets included birds equipped with quirky voices and a wonderful beagle that seemed so real resting on the arm of one of the actors though its voice was presented by another actor standing next to them. I came away feeling equally unsettled, warm and inspired. Such an intimate theme played peekaboo through rather whimsical storytelling devices, making it easier to take in.

Though already having an idea in mind, I am now currently drafting a project of my own for Loyola’s second stage laboratory at full speed. Hopefully you will see it during my senior year. I guess this entire experience empowered me to push my involvement in the Loyola theatre community even more.

Such talent walk and have walked these walls. It is amazing to be among them.

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: