Another Year Backstage

This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in WashU’s annual Lunar New Year Festival performance. This marks my third year working stage crew for this show, and it just keeps getting better and better.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Lunar New Year Festival (LNYF for short) is a student-run organization that produces a show every year to celebrate the holiday of the same name as well as raise money for philanthropy. If I’m not mistaken, it’s one of the largest student-run groups and the largest performance on campus, as well as, in my biased opinion, the most impressive show. They also put on other smaller events throughout the year, such as a fireworks show and dance showcase during the actual weekend of the Lunar New Year. Fun fact: that was the closest I’ve ever been to fireworks. The crowd stood maybe a hundred feet away as they launched from Mudd Field.

I’ve participated in LNYF since my freshman year, when I approached that year’s stage manager about joining stage crew. I am possibly the least coordinated person alive, so dances were out of the question for me, but I still wanted to help out. Ever since then, yours truly has watched over stage right for three shows!

One of my favorite things about being stage crew is that I get to see everything behind the scenes. It’s incredibly satisfying, watching dances practice and practice and practice during tech week until they run a perfect performance during the actual show. I actually get to watch each dance around 6-7 times throughout this week, possibly more!

I think my favorite dances this year were Chinese Fan and Yoyo, although Yoyo comes with the side-effect of incredible stress as you hope they don’t send giant Chinese yoyos flying into the audience. It actually happened a few times during the show when tricks went awry, and we had to retrieve them afterwards! When Yoyo does succeed, it’s possibly the most thrilling part of LNYF.

As stage right, I also get to wear Edison theatre’s headsets to communicate with stage manager and other stage crew. Part of my job is to make sure each dance is in place before the stage manager calls the light and music cues. This is a lot harder than it sounds in practice, since there’s a blackout during transition times where dancers move on and off stage, and I’m essentially jumping from bright stage lights in my eyes to pure black.

My view backstage, complete with blinding lights.

Outside of the show, I also got to help my tech director pick and set up transition music to play between each dance. Unfortunately (or fortunately), all of us are massive nerds, so this year’s transition soundtrack was 100% video game and anime music. You’re welcome, everyone. Our tech director was great this year; so great, in fact, that we thanked him by printing out giant signs that we brought onto stage during Saturday night’s curtain call. You’re welcome, Doyle.

$2.50 to print, priceless reaction.

I’ve posted about my experiences in LNYF before, so I’m trying not to be too repetitive. This year was especially fun, however, and a great deal of it was the people. Freshman year me thought it was great, but I barely knew anyone in the show then. Last year and this year, I know more and more people, not just in dances but also on LNYF exec and on stage crew itself. Now that I think about it, I think most of my friends are part of LNYF in some shape or form!

After 3 years at WashU, I can assert that LNYF is still one of my best experiences. I’ve made countless friends, I get to enjoy performances more times than anyone else, and I get to say that I was backstage in one of WashU’s biggest performances. Here’s hoping that I can continue for one last year as a senior!