Enter “silly space.” A sacred studio located on the third floor of 721 Broadway where inhibitions are dropped– but not as fast as your body drops to the wooden floorboards as you flop like a fish to the calls of: “Don’t think! Let your body take over! Be silly!”
One by one, twelve NYU Shanghai students ventured into “silly space” over the summer for the NYUSH Reality Show, shutting off self-consciousness and putting down their pride to expose their vulnerabilities to each other. As cast member Konrad Krawczyk put it: “You have to face any fears you might have, check your ego at the door, but still stay self-aware.”
From the get go, after introductions and icebreaker games, we were challenged to absolutely embarrass ourselves. “I felt [nervous and uneasy] when we first arrived here,” cast member Miki Bin said. “I loved the rehearsal, but sometimes I just felt like the awkward girl.”
But soon, we were tasked with writing. Having complete freedom over what to write is one of the most stressful assignments I hope you may never encounter. I spent much of my time in New York sitting in coffee shops, struggling not to get distracted while banging my head against the table for ideas and melodies. Krawczyk shared that he’s “never had a more intense creative project in my life. [We] had to come up with ideas overnight, [we] had to face many small failures, and also [we] had to sing, dance, think and act for three hours a day straight. It was much more than it seemed. But it didn’t crush any of us, cause we kept each other motivated every day.”
This is why teamwork was so important. Each of us had a unique strength and flavor we added to the writing of the show. Not only that, but while we wrote together for the show, we were able to get to know each other better and share moments of struggle and success.
Friendship comes in handy when you’re talking about personal topics, particularly in the discussions of mental health, self confidence, and sensitive student experiences. The process was long and often draining, but we didn’t want it any other way. “[The Reality Show] stemmed from real experiences and issues of real students… each one of us has their voice reflected in the ultimate shape of the show,” said Bin. “We not only looked around ourselves, but also looked in ourselves. When we were touching the sensitive topics, I… found [that I had done] things that [were] not right and offensive. It’s always good to know yourself better, and try to be a better person.”
Freshmen aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the show… the entire cast has too. Cast member Agnes Santiano said she “learned the value in creating things from a place of love, as well as the support that comes with allowing yourself to be vulnerable.” Fellow performer Jack Shi learned that “a very important part of musical is making connection with each other.”
Krawczyk perfectly describes the “delicate balance” of performance that we’ve all learned this summer: “Look at others, but still count your own beat. Sing loud, but not too loud. Dance your own routine, but adjust it so that it looks more perfect as a whole. Isn’t this concept applicable to any other group effort in life?”
When asked what the freshmen should look forward to in The NYUSH Reality Show, Santiano had this to say: “We talk about baseball. Millie–don’t use this one.”
This article was written by Millie Wong. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Millie Wong