Freeze by Kenzo Fukuda

Back in October 2018, Creative Writing held our annual show where each of us recites a piece on stage, whether that be poetry, prose, or a short story. We also have skits in between parts of our show and our show’s title “La Cro-Ink” was for that. If you went to this past show you might know what is coming next.  

Getting past the basics, I had my poem detailed and planned out to the finest detail. I had adjusted the poem to fit a stage performance, found a clip of Tupac Shakur that meshed with my poem, had red lighting for my entrance and “Spanish Harlem” by Aretha Franklin for my exit. I rehearsed and memorized my poem “We the People” to the point where hyperbole would be appropriate. I was going to kill it! I was supposed to kill it. So when I walked onto the platform in the center of the stage, in front of the whole theater, I opened my mouth and froze.

That Eminem song “Lose Yourself” has more meaning to me now than before that moment. My palms were sweaty, my knees were weak, the whole shabang. My guess to why the words would not come out (sorry last Eminem reference) is because I had been on stage for 30 seconds leading up to the reciting. I could see them because the red backlight was shining on their faces and not mine. So when the spotlight dropped, my subconscious started freaking out because now everyone could see me. My brain just shut off and left me flapping in the wind. I had “forgotten” the first lines. When I say forgotten I don’t feel like I actually forgot the words. They were there, somewhere, it was just that my voice and brain could not connect. Like along the way, the words got into a car accident but forgot to call and tell me that they would not make it. I stood on the stand alone and empty.  

I started stuttering and ummming and whispering, “No, no…” the one thing we are told not to do when your forget a line. My body felt like rigamortis, paralyzed by fear but still experiencing every ounce of pain from it. I had to step back from the mic for a moment. I heard people shouting from the audience, “You got this Kenzo!” Even Heather, our department head, was screaming, “Just relax! Go!” But when I stepped back towards the mic and opened my mouth, nothing. I realized I had to skip the entire first stanza and start with the second. I ended up jumbling a lot of the stanzas around to make the piece make sense without the intro, which I didn’t even realize until I watch the video my parents took. I got through the piece and walked off stage.

As soon as I stepped off stage, a rush of Creative Writers swarmed me. They started comforting me, patting my shoulder, and said things like, “You did so well,” “You were amazing”, “At least you finished your piece!” I appreciated everything they said, and it goes to show how close knit this department is, but I was in a fog. Their voices were echoing and I could barely hear them. All I heard the voice in my head, “That could not have just happened, that didn’t happen, right?” It was a surreal moment where I could not process what just happened, like denial was making me forget the experience. But suddenly it hit me and I had to get out of there, had to get some fresh air. I went outside into the parking lot and started screaming.

I was throwing rocks, cursing, kicking the wall, punching the wall, grabbing my head and just sobbing. It was that feeling of let down. It’s such a terrible feeling when you work so hard to make something perfect but in the end it all comes crashing down into rubble. Several people came and gave me their own pep talk. I love each and everyone of them for it. They worked but what snapped me out of my funk and self loathing was my family. They said, and I quote, “Get over it! Stop with this self pity. What’s done is done.” You really do need your family to say something so blunt and honest. I also learned that half of the audience thought my freeze up was intentional. So that was a consolation. That night was full of ups and downs but in the end I’m grateful that I had this experience. If I had to do it all over again, I would rather not choke, who would honestly want to experience that again?  But I’ll try to focus on the positives rather than the negatives and hopefully learn from it.

Kenzo Fukuda, class of 2020

Stagefright by Paloma Fernandez

Creative Writing is a department where you can’t get by without always participating. Everyday you are sharing your opinions and interpretations and your own pieces. For me coming into and environment like this was somewhat challenging. I have never been a big sharer in class. At my old schools I was able to get by without sharing as much, but that’s not the case for this department.

So by the time our Fall poetry and prose show came around I wasn’t ready. Throughout the show everyone in the department goes up and shares either a poetry or prose piece. Also, skits written by a few of the seniors in the department are performed. So naturally I was freaking out a little inside about this. But I somehow convinced myself to do a longer prose piece and to somewhat face my fear.

My piece was one of the longer ones in the show. So of course this made me nervous. I was thinking about changing my piece, but by the time we started rehearsal and staying at school till about 6:00 every night, I realized it was too late now.

The night of the show came around and I was absolutely terrified. Throughout the day there were just scenarios of ways I would mess up playing throughout my head and what the chances of me passing out on stage were. Luckily it was a small chance.

Once it was my turn I walked up and stood on the podium, trying to center myself and stand up straight. The whole time I was up their my legs were trembling, and it was out of my power. About half way through my piece I realized I had to stop worrying so much. So that’s what I did and I stopped thinking about pauses and looking up and just did them naturally. By the time I walked off stage I was so relieved. About the fact that it was over and I did not terribly fail, and that I got a good response from the audience. It was very reassuring when a couple days after people would tell me that they really liked my piece, and that made me believe my friends and family when they told me I did well and it wasn’t just them feeling obligated to tell me that.

Paloma Fernandez, class of 2022

The Fall Show by Solange Baker

When applying to Creative Writing, one of the best things you can do is go to one of the shows. It gives you a fantastic idea of what we do in our department and allows you to support a community you may one day be a part of. In eighth grade, when I was putting together my portfolio, I attended the Rebel Rebel Creative Writing Fall Show. By the end of the show I was enamored with the department. Watching the performance assured me that this was something I wanted to be a part of. Flash forward three years and I’m preparing for my seventh show with the department.

This year is the first year Creative Writing has been separated into two pathways. So for the Fall Show, Metamorphosis,  the literary and spoken arts pathways are working together. For this show I am collaborating with a fellow junior, Huck Shelf, to write a short play. The play is cut into four scenes and will be dispersed throughout the show. I haven’t ever collaborated on a piece with someone, but it’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off a person who has worked with the piece as intimately as I have. While it’s still a work in progress, Huck and I are excited to see our play produced. Something I’ve discovered about myself after having my plays produced, is that I thoroughly enjoy seeing my work put into action. It’s interesting to see how other people take on my pieces artistically and make it their own. It’s hard doing this, though. When you work so closely with something, letting it go and allowing others to take it in their own direction is difficult.

Whether you’re on the fence about applying or have been fixated on joining the Creative Writing department for years, coming to the Fall Show is an entertaining and useful experience. Who knows, maybe this time next year you’ll be preparing for the show along with the rest of us—workshopping your work, memorizing your piece, and reveling in the community you worked so hard to be a part of.

Solange Baker, class of 2019

Metamorphosis by Eva Whitney

I suppose it is customary for there to be one blog post about the show each year, and this is it. Simply, the Creative Writing Department here at The School of the Arts puts on two shows a year: a cumulative performance in Autumn and a playwriting show in Spring. Although the cumulative performance is at the beginning of the year, it is a place for students to showcase their best work. In this case, the upperclassmen have the upper hand as they have endless amounts of work to choose from, whereas the freshmen have about three pieces. We workshop tirelessly for a week, memorize, and then endure a grueling rehearsal week. I have found this process rewarding both times; it was satisfying to see it all come together.

This year’s show, titled “Metamorphosis,” was quite a change for the Creative Writing Department as it was our first show in collaboration with our new pathway, Spoken Word. None of us knew what to expect, having a show with over forty performers, a new teacher, and a group of students that we had hardly interacted with beforehand.

On the first day of rehearsal week, Creative Writing as a whole crammed into the Literary Arts room like elephants in a closet. It was our first time coming together to work toward a common goal and I looked forward to see what was in store for the coming week. The days of rehearsal week blended together: we started with a warm-up each day, then split up for the next few hours while the first act of the show ran. I was one of the last people to go on, so I found myself staying until seven or later each night. In contrast to the chaos of the afternoon, the nights in the theater were relaxing. Few tech students remained, and only a handful of Creative Writers.

Colored lights danced across the stage almost hypnotically and one night, I even found myself drifting off backstage as the ocean-themed pieces were read. During those nights I stayed late in the theater I wished more than anything to leave, but, looking back, I realize this was the most meditative time of my week.

Rehearsal week truly was an important experience. Not only did it cause me to become more familiar with my own work and hear the voices of my peers, it was a time for me to grow friendlier with my classmates of both my pathway and Spoken Word. The range was remarkable. I heard everything from pieces about the Queen of Landfill to those about self-image and discrimination. There were pieces about anxiety, shape-shifting, and a skit following a girl trying to come into herself as an alien. The audience responded with wild enthusiasm and backstage we cheered silently for each other.

The experience of the show made me appreciate the beauty in having two pathways; Spoken Word gave me an entirely new perspective into how broad the term “Creative Writing” is. Both pathways have much to teach each other.  It is clear that this is the start of our metamorphosis.

Eva Whitney, class of 2020

Stage Fright by Emily Kozhina

On October 21st, Creative Writing had its first show of the year, Stage Fright. It was the first show I had ever performed in at SOTA, and the title fit perfectly with the nervous wreck in my mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect; I had never performed my writing in front of a large crowd. The thought was utterly terrifying. I was surprised I didn’t faint at the mention of it.

I was much too proud once I printed my final copy, the one I would be performing. When I practiced with our artist-in-residence Trey Amos, I tried to swallow my fear and read it with all the confidence I could muster. Workshopping my writing and performance only helped me improve, and reminded me of the friendly community I had never had with other writers.

During rehearsal week, I had met the one and only Mr. Kwapy. After hearing his name over and over again, I finally saw him. He and Isaiah Dufort helped us with the skits, which I enjoyed watching improve over the few days we had. My piece engraved in my mind, and my skit face on, I felt almost ready for the show. It was a bit late to be almost ready, because I was backstage on Friday, listening to audience find their seats and chatter.

Then the overflow chairs came out. My first show, and we sold out! Everyone was trying to celebrate with hushed voices, hugging and helping pull out more and more chairs. I stood, frozen. I couldn’t recognize the emotion I felt. The excitement around me and the anticipation of the audience brought butterflies to my stomach. It was either that or the excessive amount of food I ate before hand.

The lights dimmed and my heart raced. The fear on my face was apparently very obvious, because students began to reassure me and smile and told me I was going to do great. I smiled back and went on stage.

I don’t know how I did on the stage personally. My mind focused on the blinding light before me as I let my body take over. And then it was over. A wave of applause. I walked off and got hugs and ‘great job’s and I tried not to cry. I wasn’t sad, or even overwhelmingly happy. I suppose it was just relief leaking through my partially blinded eyes.

My hands and throat were sore by the end. I screamed and clapped and ate candy, and basked in my overcoming of stage fright.

Emily Kozhina, class of 2020

Trey Amos, the One and Only by Abbegail Louie

Being a fan of spoken word and performance art, I was practically jumping in my seat when I learned that Creative Writing would be having an artist-in-resident from Youth Speaks. I know that I’m very vocal about my thoughts and being loud is in my genetic coding, so to learn that we were going to focus on performance writing had me geek out a little–ok a lottle. There’s something so unique about bringing writing to the stage and not just reading it, but presenting it. When starting the unit, I was pleased and, ok lowkey fangirling, over our new mentor, Trey Amos.

Last year, I went to Youth Speaks’ Bring the Noise event and Trey was the MC. Trey is one of the most positive guys I’ve met and always brings the right type of energy into our classes. He brought many Cdubs out of their comfort zone and in turn helped made our annual showcase awesome. Whether it be a class game or a writing prompt, Trey has been there to navigate the performance aspect of our writing.

And for that, on behalf of every Creative Writer, we thank you for being an amazing artist-in-resident!

Abbegail Louie, class of 2019