*excited murmurs of people ripple around as the audience awaits a certain event in the auditorium…*
Welcome to the student and parent shows of ASIA’s Lunar Culture Show, shining with the beauty of Chinese Traditional (C-Trad), Korean Traditional (K-Trad), Vietnamese Traditional (V-Trad), and Filipino Traditional (F-Trad) flitting onstage alongside the classic masterpieces of Modern, BFriend/GFriend, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior.
Instead of the invitation for popular student guests to come onstage to be the MCs, ASIA pulled off an entire mini-theater production, complete with the inspiration from the show Avatar: The Last Airbender. As you are surrounded by the masterfully controlled elements, C-Trad as the Firebenders, K-Trad as the Airbenders, V-Trad as the Earthbenders, and F-Trad as the Waterbenders, come join me on a journey through Aang’s world through new realizations and stories galore.
Oh, look! There’s Aang! Wait, there’s Uncle Iroh and Zuko! Wow, Katara, Toph, and Carissa are all here?! Come, let’s meet them and get to know about their perspectives within the Lunar script and their characters a bit better!
Haoran Shi (Aang) ‘25:
This was the first time that ASIA pulled off the script format in 2 years. The board wasn’t sure if this was going to be successful, so we began brainstorming ideas to find something popular that everyone knew about to get a large audience while avoiding promoting one culture over another. The script was continuously edited to avoid exceeding the time limit for the show and to avoid oversaturating the actors as the script held as many practices as possible.
As for what led to me being cast as Aang, it was an opportunity for me to go all out for the Year of the Dragon. Being set as Aang also allowed Carissa to make fun of me for being bald as well as having an excuse to cut my hair beforehand. As for the actual performances, it wasn’t too bad, as I knew that my friends would be there. I was sure that the students knew that my performance was going to be rather goofy. It was also great hearing that the parents loved the show as well, according to Zuyu.
Jerrick Li (Uncle Iroh) ‘24:
The script was inspired by conversations with DEI and Rodrigo and the introduction of the script in the Lunar show from two years ago (sophomore year for the class of 24). Lily came up with the idea of the Avatar theme surrounding this show while Haoran and I drafted the script. I looked over Haoran’s outline and put him in charge of the script operations.
As for playing Uncle Iroh, I was a former theater kid, so it was a lot of fun making the script as well as directing everything to see it come to life. Attempts to mimic Iroh’s voice were rather complicated, so I simply used this opportunity to have some fun with it. I also included some brief appearances of the ASIA board within the show such as Kennedy being featured as one of the bullies and Lily being the auntie’s daughter.
I hope the idea of a script for the speaking parts of Lunar will continue. This script discussed a lot of themes and the more heartfelt moments that an MC script could not replicate. This is what culture shows should be and value moving forward. It’s more work, but it allows a more interesting and creative outlet for showing who we are.
Shoutout to ISP for helping with the lighting!
Carissa Chen (MC Carissa) ‘25:
I knew that being MC was a big role and responsibility, so when I got the part, I wanted to make sure that I could bring Jerrick and Haoran’s vision of the MC to life. There was a lot of pressure, as this was the first time I’ve ever seen a script like this being done at IMSA, but I’m glad I got to work with all of the cast and that ASIA was so supportive! I loved playing my character, being so universally relatable to both parents and students. I could relate to my character in some aspects. Overall, it was such an enjoyable experience and the entire cast and board was so fun to work with!
The dress rehearsal was so much fun and the highlight of my experience! I loved being on stage and especially seeing the ninjas help this production come to life. As for preparing for my role, I watched Avatar, High School Musical, and Hamilton to tap into my inner theater kid. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that ASIA gave me and I honestly cannot thank them enough.
Ellen Nguyen (Toph) ‘24:
Even though I don’t have much knowledge of Avatar because I’ve never watched it, this role was so much fun and memorable to play. I already knew about Toph and her very cool and sassy personality, so when I got the role, I wondered how I would be able to pull this role off. I knew I had to make this performance good, so I watched a bunch of videos to prepare. Overall, I loved Toph! It was the best and most fun experience playing her with her lines.
As for the sudden addition of me having to look backward when pointing out Carissa and Aang, it was a bit confusing to integrate with how impromptu the addition was. I felt bad for forgetting to do it during the student show, so I made sure it was done during the parent show. Speaking of Toph’s blindness, there was a lot of discussion over how I was supposed to show Toph’s blindness without giving the wrong message to the audience or messing up her aesthetic.
Overall, it was cool playing Toph, despite having my dinners pushed back to 10 pm. I have VTrad and the Earthbenders to thank for giving me this opportunity. I am so glad I was Toph for the Year of the Dragon!
Nandini Budithi (Katara) ‘25:
For the acting aspect of the script, I already had a lot of acting experience so I was comfortable on that end. This capacity was a bit unfamiliar, however, going on for short bits of time.
I loved playing Katara, especially since my family and I have watched Avatar a lot. For the script, I loved seeing everyone come together and execute the script. I thought I would get more lines, but I’m grateful for having a lesser load as it helped with the ease of memorization.
As for my quick appearance during FTrad, Tommy came up with that idea. It was a super last-minute proposal as I was told that they “lowkey need a Waterbender.” By last minute, it was incorporated during the last two tech week rehearsals.
I’m really glad I was involved in this show, it was really fun and it showed the dedication of the ASIA board. My friends should be thanked as they were the ones who convinced me to audition when I wasn’t interested at first.
Nathaniel Huang (Zuko) ‘24:
When I found out that I got the role for Zuko, I was excited to reach into my inner theater kid who has been dormant since this year’s fall play, and have fun with a new way of being involved in Lunar.
I once briefly considered getting either an eye patch or eye makeup to make my face match Zuko’s face with the scars surrounding his left eye, but it was quickly dropped to make it easier for me to switch between acting and dancing. The highlight of my IMSA career is honestly playing as Firelord Ozai’s (Dr. Glazer) son and having the honor of hugging him for the show. My first impressions of those stage directions were rather awkward because he is IMSA’s president, but after practicing the scene with either board members Kennedy or Eric as substitutes, I soon warmed up to that scene.
Overall, I was honored to have been able to play the Prince of the Firebenders. This show was the first time I wore Chinese traditional clothing, so there is also a cultural milestone element to this for me. This opportunity even helped me to make some new friends, so I would like to give a huge thanks to the ASIA board and script cast for helping me to feel so included. Being Zuko will remain a core memory of my senior year!
“Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony…” *magical pulsating energy as the world changes yet again*
And the end scene! I hope your journey through the Avatar world was just as pleasant as mine (or Carissa’s). Through many rehearsals and logistics, the cast came together to pull off a successful production for both the student and parent shows. Through this experience, many of us became closer and we all experienced great memories as we worked together to where we now use our script characters as a nickname.
Sometimes I may be Zuko, other times I’m just Nathaniel. It all just depends on the circumstances.
Happy Year of the Dragon, everyone!