Day ten at Williamstown. I walk into the audition room and when asked the song I will be singing, I hesitate. “I was thinking –” I stop, “I am going to sing a song in Chinese.”
I’m finally at a point where I FEEL like “I am Asian, proud of it, and if who I am is part of my art, then this can and should be too.”
Let’s be clear: I am not a singer. I am not good at singing, nor am I good at dancing, frankly, but I am getting better at being myself. Two days ago, at a panel with Mandy Greenfield, the artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, I raised my hand to ask a question. Eyes puffy from a night of crying and anxiety, I decided to air out all the insecurities I had been feeling, “I am struggling with something of a paradox in the industry. We are told, when we walk into a room for an audition, or when we send a script in as a playwright, or when we interview for a position as the director, or anything else, that if we are not chosen for a part or role it is because we are not the right type, that it is not about us and our talent but about what they need. But at the same time, we are told that if we are good enough we should be able to change anyone’s mind about what they’re looking for and what they want and need. So, to that end, how do you know when you’ve tried enough, when it’s not that you’re the wrong type but that you’re really just not that good and should stop?” It was a release of an insecurity I have been feeling, heavily, and which perhaps is an indication that I shouldn’t be doing this, but more than that, I think it is an indication of how well I need to know myself in order to gain resilience. Her answer was essentially that we have to trust the honesty barometer in ourselves to know when someone offers criticism, or rejection, or approval and affirmation, if what they are saying about you is true or false, deep down. And that requires a sense of self-knowledge and self-worth that I think I am here to find this summer.
The past week has been filled with new things – new friends, new auditions, new rejections, new artistic endeavours, and ideas too. From going to Walmart,
to going to a pop up shop where I really wanted to purchase a useless shirt
to going to Mount Greylock, the highest peak in Massachussets, on a beautiful sunny morning
to going to Mass MOCA and seeing the incredible beauty in visual arts
being here with new people, new faces, and new work has been really lovely, enriching, and also difficult, all at once.
Yesterday, one of the most important people in my life came to visit. Kristy, my person/Christina Yang/soul mate of sorts popped into my Williamstown life, and I was reminded of who I am outside of this place, and how that identity is not only vastly important here to maintain, but that it is who I am, always, regardless of where I go.
we got to do a beautiful hike up Pine Cobble with two other amazing young ladies I’m so glad to have gotten to spend time with here, Julia and Haley
(spot Julia’s small face under her bucket hat in the bushes here)
and we had some AMAZING Indian food that I am still digesting, 16 hours later, as I sit at this coffee shop, writing this
Something I am struggling with is the difference between who I feel I am, and how I am perceived. And I don’t mean just my race, my gender, sexuality, hometown, or any of that, though of course it all matters and is impactful in my daily life. But I often feel like I have an armour on, one that is polished, painted, colorful, vibrant, beautiful, and composed, while on the inside it is a wild, wild zoo of small chipmunks, rampant squirrels, and worms who are bumping into things because they’re blind and in the dark. This is probably one of the worst analogies I can make, but that’s how it feels, and I am trying very hard to air out the mess. I am trying to be myself in my art, not only in terms of culture, language, and background, but in terms of how I feel, how I am able or unable to express those feelings, and rather than only speaking when I have figured myself out, to use language and art to process them. Being here as an apprentice, I feel the need to do so much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited. Excited to work on deck crew, to do a reading of a new play, to meet people, and see new things, but I am also excited to just fuck up. And do things that I need to fail at in order to learn about how to do things better for myself, and know myself better through it.