Finding your vocation

Palms sweaty, Honor Thespian Cindy Wang squirmed in her seat, struggling to hold in her full bladder. She ran her lines through her head while watching another Thespian woo the crowd with his hilarious monologue.
The annual National Thespian Festival at the University of Lincoln-Nebraska was an opportunity for students to showcase their talents and win college scholarships.
As Wang’s turn got closer to her, she forgot more and more of her piece, eventually not remembering the opening lines to the monologue she had practiced for months. Yet, despite blanking out, all she could think about was going to the restroom.
But everything changed when she was on stage: when she hung her head, braced herself, and raised it back up, she was Trudy, a crazy bag lady on “the corner of Walk, Don’t Walk,” rambling about aliens in a heavy New York accent.
“Up until then, I had forgotten my lines to everything and then suddenly, I had an onslaught of lines coming into my head,” senior Cindy Wang said. “And I thought to my self, ‘Which one’s the first one!?’”
The pressure of over 70 college representatives from all over the country was nerve-wracking; seeing people perform before her was what really got to her.
“It’s so hard because sometimes some of those people go up there and it makes you feel better because [they didn’t do so well]” she said. “But then some people go up there and they’re just phenomenal…they’ll just kill it, and you’re like, ‘Oh…they’ve had a lot more practice than us…’”
For senior Nga Nguyen, another Thespian who went this summer, it was the juggling act she had to do during the performance that really made the tension.
“The hardest part was rehearsing before the audition,” she said. Theater teacher Julie Ryan gave her critiques to improve her performance, but once she was on stage “I didn’t know what to expect; what the judges looked like, what room I was going to be in, how good my ‘competition’ was, the judges’ expectations. All of that while trying to remember my lines and what I needed to improve on.”
After auditions, colleges post the names of students they are interested in at their stands, where eager Thespians crowd to see if they were called back.
Wang was called back for several schools, including her dream school, St. Mary’s University, Nguyen by schools like St. Louis University and the University of Houston.
But while both Thespians celebrated their success, they were even happier that they finally came to terms with what they wanted to do in the future.
For Nguyen, she had always been at odds with herself when it came to her passion for dancing and her passion for theatre. It was through Thespian Festival that she learned she could combine the two and do both things she loved. It even helped her organize and plan her senior year.
“At first I didn’t know what I wanted to be but when I got there, [I knew] I wanted to be a theatre dance major. I’ve always had to choose between the two,” Nguyen said. “Now…I’m going to do acting in school, I’m going to do dancing after school and I’m taking other classes, like aerobics class, to get better.”
For Wang, she had always been doubtful of majoring in theatre and becoming an actress. Being a member of a minority group,  she figured she’d have an even harder time in the acting business. The festival made her realize that what made her happy was really all she was looking for.
“Personally, for me, it’s not about how much money I make or how successful I am,” she said. “My big thing is, I don’t want to end up in a desk job. I don’t want to end up doing something I don’t like doing.”