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

Overcoming Stagefright by Julieta Roll

Every year Creative Writing has a playwriting show. We select around ten plays from our playwriting unit to produce, all of which are performed by us. By no means is Creative Writing a master of theatre, but in my three years in the department I have become infinitely more comfortable with the stage.

I have never been an outgoing person. As a child I would often cower, begging not to be seen. Now as a teenager I have taught myself to be in the spotlight, to be accepting of attention. Creative Writing has taken my humility, in a good way. I have learned that I can’t spend so much time worrying about what others think of me. I should act as I wish, be completely myself. As much as that sounds cheesy the Creative Writing shows have truly aided me in reaching that confidence. For rehearsal week we have to spend hours on stage, fully becoming our characters and yelling at the top of our lungs. The process can be overwhelming yet it has pushed me to explore my abilities in performance. I have no choice but to play the role I have been given and give it all I have.

In this year’s playwriting show I played the role of a maleficent bird. As I looked through the dialogue I would have to memorize and the cues I would have to learn I felt that familiar surge of panic. The feeling of ​stagefright ​and worry. ‘I can’t do this’ I thought, thinking of myself up there on the stage, everyone staring. Yet, rehearsal week arrived and I knew there was no backing out. I would play a bird, a pretentious demanding bird, a bird that was quite the opposite of myself. Like all the years past I memorized I went through grueling rehearsal and when the moment finally came to walk on stage I felt that pumping adrenaline fuel my body. One thing I always remember about being on stage is how quiet it feels. You become consciousness of how many people can watch you at once, waiting for your words. As always, the play continued and as if on autopilot I said my lines and walked off stage. “I just did that” I thought as I often think when I finish a performance. I had enough confidence to go up there. I demanded attention.

Julieta Roll, class of 2019

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

Creative Writing Butterflies by Solange Baker

With our first show of the year coming up, this week has been a rush of preparing and excitement. As I am a freshman, this is my first show in creative writing. During my eighth grade year, I came to “Rebel Rebel”, the fall showcase last year. To put it simply, it was one of the best shows that I’ve been to. It’s interesting though, to know see the mechanics and behind the scenes of the making a writing show.

Putting on a performance takes a lot of work. I’ve been in enough plays and such to know this, but this is a new experience for me. There’s a certain feeling of nervousness that comes with reading your work that’s different than being in a play. Writing is very personal and difficult to share. So of course we all get nervous about the show. But the community that we’ve built makes it easier. We’re definitely one of the top three most close knit departments. It’s nice to be able to walk up to someone who’s older than you and have them help edit a piece or get rid of jitters without feeling too intimidated.

Everyday this week we stay from 1:10 to 5 (sometimes later) rehearsing. We have the theater for a week. So while the first act is practicing on stage , the second is outside practicing by themselves. The more I revise my piece the more I stand on that dusty black stage, the more real this seems. It’s weird knowing people who performed in a show that you loved. It’s like meeting a celebrity, being starstruck at first, and then getting to know them and forgetting about that feeling like they were godly. In a way it’s even weirder seeing my fellow C-dubs in rehearsal. They’re all incredibly talented and it makes me proud in a happy way to be part of their creative writing family. I can’t help but wonder if someone in the audience will feel the same start-struck  feeling I did– that I do. All I can hope is that as I walk onto the stage, shaking and nervous, that someone in the audience will feel inspired, changed at least for a moment. But in the end, isn’t that what we all want?

Solange Baker, class of 2019