Author: Ha (Millie) Le

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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.

 

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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.)

 

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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.

 

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Such a ‘Bler: Pizza with the Playwright – Alumni Phillip Dawkins

Such a ‘Bler: Pizza with the Playwright – Alumni Phillip Dawkins

Failure: A Love Story was a play written by Loyola University Chicago’s alumni, Philip Dawkins. This theatre season, Failure was produced by Loyola on the main stage in the Newhart family theatre. For me personally, it was a very meaningful event because I was seeing a graduate’s work after their graduation AT THE PLACE THEY GRADUATED FROM – MY UNIVERSITY – how surreal.  

In addition, it was even more special because our Dramaturgy Working Group had some time to chat with the playwright and educator himself about his show and adventures in the world of theatre thus far. I was quite nervous leading up to it but it was nice to see that well, he’s just like anyone of us: hungry for art and hungry take on the world one laugh at a time. 

He shared some things that really helped me, especially during this stressful sophomore and internship hunting period in my life: 

About making a living as an artist: You’re never going to make a living doing theatre, two of you will, maybe (he stressed this). But you need to go into it with that mindset and find a side job. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, you decide how far you want to take theatre in your life. You need to do whatever you need to do to keep your goals alive. 

About playwriting, writings block, artistic anxiousness: Just write, write it all, and then work from there.  

About getting out there and getting somewhere, anywhere: (this one surprised me, but really really helped!!) offer your contributions to theatres that are doing readings, even if you’re not an actor. Get yourself out there, introduce yourself, and then introduce yourself as the artist you are. There’s no harm in being known by another face. 

I then watched Failure that night, and well, I was even more amazed. But more on that in a separate emotional post. 

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

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Such a ‘Bler: A Night of Play-reading in Chicago

Such a ‘Bler: A Night of Play-reading in Chicago

You’d be surprised how many theatres there are in Chicago. My friends from THTR 204: Playwriting and I started out the week with a reading of Emma Stanton’s When the Tsunami Knows Your Name at the Jackalope Theatre on the Thorndale redline stop. It was only ONE STOP away from my dorm! The reading was directed by our playwriting professor Devon De Mayo (so we got in for free haha) and served as part of one of our assignments for the course. We have to see at least two play readings and write a viewing response for them. Frankly, I’m totally cool with that! 

Here’s a little blurb about the play from the event: “When devoted veterinary technician Ruby witnesses one stranger’s tragedy, she finds herself drawn to a new path, making precarious pacts with co-workers, a police officer, and an elegant dancer named Tsunami. Populated by pet-devotees and set in a city by the sea, WHEN THE TSUNAMI KNOWS YOUR NAME explores how unexpected tragedy can expose the beautiful and ugly truths about who we are.” 

Now, I would give you a more personal summary of it but I’m still too emotional – and well the above was beautiful said. But I was blown away. This was not only because the characters were prenominal and wonderfully casted, but because the theme and metaphors were very close to home. 

From my understanding the Tsunami represented a certain sadness that we all feel and how it can be so scary yet comforting. I thought intertwining this metaphor within the tsunami dance scenes of the play made the sensitive topic more approachable for the audience. And the intimate space of the Jackalope Theatre couldn’t have been a better place for this experience. 

I have another play reading left for this course, but my Chicago theatre adventures are definitely not stopping there! 

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: How I Cried During My First Playwriting Workshop

Such a ‘Bler: How I Cried During My First Playwriting Workshop

And so it was my turn in THTR 204: Playwriting, to present my heart on the pages as a livewire of nervous hormones of an aspiring playwright. I raised my hand to go third, and as nervous as I felt, I was ready. 

I have always struggled with feeling too abstract in my approach to art, yet this was my most abstract piece yet. The assignment called for a five to seven-page scene focusing on character and plot. I wrote a conversation between a seventeen-year-old girl and her imaginary friends about her mental health. I decided to not reveal the aspect of the imaginary friend in before the reading to see if the scene’s clues spoke for themselves. Honestly this was a make or break moment for me, and well here’s how I ended up crying.  

The reactions I received were beyond anything I had ever imagined or frankly, could wish for. This was the second time in my life, presenting my work to such a diverse audience (the first being fall of freshman year during THTR 100: Introduction to Theatre Experience) and I am nothing but grateful for it. To my surprise, they were moved. They listened closely but were still left confused, hungry and disturbed which is everything I was trying to achieve. I feared my work was too abstract, too specific, too minimal – like the critic I’d always often receive. But everything I feared turned out to be everything they loved about the scene. 

 They just wanted more. And as I listened to their curiously tongue-tied feedback, I was inspired all over again. It was the exact hug I needed to trust myself as a playwright. One thing that I think I will always remember is how they touched on this fear I had been expressing since day 1 of the course. The encouragement was heartwarming, and I am now more confident in my difference than ever. 

 As I write this, a classmate just came up to tell me again how much he was moved by the reading, and I am still speechless. I have a lot to say and a lot of things I want to thank the group and our professor, but I honestly have still yet been able to find the right words. I guess I will keep on writing, I guess that is how I’ll thank them for their support. 

 

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Such a ‘Bler: Rehearsal rehearsal (space)

Such a ‘Bler: Rehearsal rehearsal (space)

Say hello to Mundelein 125.

For the past five weeks, I have spent at least two hours every Monday and Wednesday in this room. This is the classroom for my THTR 266: Acting Theories and Techniques I course. I am no actress, perhaps a performer but mainly a playwright. However, I feel comfortable in 125 and am learning more and more about space as well as my place and power within in.

I love the simplicity yet complicated possibilities of such a room. There are bits and bobs for us to play with to construct worlds needed for our different theatrical portals. It is realistic for practice but not intimidating of a stage for newbies like I. And I love that it is open for free rehearsal hours. How it is set up in the picture is how my scene partner and I have decided to stage the argument scene between Corie and Paul in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park for our first round of acting projects in the course. It’s supposed to be a living room, with a staircase leading to a bedroom, or a small apartment (did we do it justice?)

Mundelein 125 has also been a kitchen, a school yard and a foster home. And well, it is the playground of my acting career for now, and those of the many talents I am honored to learn from.

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS! 

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: 

Such a ‘Bler: Feeling Anxious and the Wellness Center

Such a ‘Bler: Feeling Anxious and the Wellness Center

In all honesty, I haven’t been feeling my best. There isn’t a particular reason or event that triggered this feeling, but sometimes that’s just how life is. I’m trying to do the best I can to not let it affect my academics and student organization activities too much.  

With that being said, I recognize the importance of discussing one’s mental health and self-care. In the fall of my freshman year, I attended the Loyola 360 retreat. As started on Loyola’s website, “it is a weekend opened to students in their first year at Loyola to gain a better understanding of the Jesuit mission and identity as well as a sense of community through the common 360 experience.” Though some parts of the retreat did not directly link to my identity as an Agnostic Atheist, it was an eye-opening experience not only about my identity but my mental health. This is because the questions asked during group activities and small discussion groups really focused on everyone’s individual identities regardless of their origin, belief or current place in life. And I really appreciated that. I received insight about the Jesuit values, but was also able to reflect and enhance my own. 

One of my biggest takeaways from this weekend was a moment of recognition. One of the discussion group leaders noticed that I was feeling anxious and asked if I was okay. This then became a deeper conversation between my discussion group leader and I, and for possibly the first time, I felt comfortable opening up about my mental health. It was then suggested that I made an appointment at the Wellness Center to see a psychiatrist.  

As of this Tuesday, I have been going for almost a semester and a half now. Being able to sit down and talk about how I’m feeling each week and actively work on strategies to counter my negative thoughts has helped me become less anxious and braver in my mental health journey. Most importantly, I do not feel alone. I appreciate that my psychiatrist asks the difficult questions but also allows me to do what is most comfortable for me. I cannot say that I am completely better, but I am far from where I was that night of the retreat.  

I know that I still have a long way to go, but it isn’t about fully getting rid of your demons but learning to face them when they do appear. I still have my days, but I now face them with a tougher and yet friendlier armor.  

 

Here are links to what has helped me, and I hope I was able to give you a hug too: 

Loyola Retreats: https://www.luc.edu/campusministry/retreats/retreatofferings/ 

Loyola University Chicago Wellness Center: https://www.luc.edu/wellness/ 

 

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Such a ‘Bler: LU Wolf’s Birthday!

Such a ‘Bler: LU Wolf’s Birthday!

This past weekend, we celebrated a very special Rambler’s birthday: Loyola University Chicago’s very own mascot, LU Wolf!

The campus buzzed with excitement. Not only was it game day in Gentile Arena, but of course a party thrown to celebrate LU. Gathering in the Den of the Damen Student Center were all his friends = from students, faculty to other mascots!! There were games, treats, singing and of course a birthday cake for wishes.

LU Wolf is a member of the Loyola Spirit Team. He is an essential part of the cheer during our athletic games and travels with the Loyola Cheer and Dance team to tournaments. I would say that being LU is honestly an significant honor as he represents the passion, integrity and enthusiasm of Loyola and Loyola Athletes. It’s also takes a lot of responsibility and skill, but if one embodies the spirit of the Loyola student promise, I’m sure the gloves fit 😉

Fun fact: one of the “LU”s actually lived on my freshman year dorm haha.

 

Read more about LU Wolf and the Spirit team here:

https://loyolaramblers.com/sports/2017/5/25/ot-loyc-spirit-html.aspx

https://www.luc.edu/nsp/aboutus/loyolatraditions/luwolf/?

 

Happy Birthday LU! I’m so glad to have you around and it is always so exciting to see you around campus. Here are some memorable shots of the day from the Ramblers Cheer Instagram story!

 

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Such a ‘Bler: I have a show on WLUW!

Such a ‘Bler: I have a show on WLUW!

And so another adventure begins.

During my college search, I came across a video tour of Loyola’s School of Communication’s Convergent Studio, and well I was hooked. I wanted to experiment, to create and to be immersed in a hands-on academic experience and there it was. I could see myself in this beautiful space and I could see myself at this beautiful university. One baby ‘Bler year later, I’m here. I have a new show on WLUW!

As stated on their official website, http://wluw.orgWLUW is the student-run radio station broadcasting from the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago. WLUW is dedicated to broadcasting independent music and informative talk programming and is a source of learning and growth for Loyola students. WLUW broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is streaming worldwide.

My show is called “Hyperlinked” – in reference to my hyperlinked brain – and it’s going to address a myriad of topics surround human interaction and relationships. And no, I don’t just mean the romantic kind. One of the areas that I hope to explore with my Communication Studies major, and well my Theatre and Creative Writing minors as well, is how individuals communicate, depend and not depend on one another. How do we perceive someone else, how do they perceive us? And why is the way we are present or not present in someone’s life so powerful?

February 13th was the first training day for the ‘Second Wave’. We are the second wave because our shows will be broadcasted on WLUW’s website rather than the actual 88.7fm channel itself. That way we are able to have more flexibility with our playing of music and discussion topics. The Second Wave is also for the more talk based or podcast based of WLUW’s shows. There’s everything from the purpose of spotlights in the Film and giving spotlights to queer artists. And I’m ecstatic!!!!

Our shows don’t begin airing until after Spring Break but I will definitely keep you posted. Wish me luck!!

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST: