Photo: Alison (Yueming) Qu/Courtesy
Alison (Yueming) Qu
May 10, 2020
It was actually a very dramatic moment, pun intended, because the moment that I got an email, I was in a rehearsal room. That show was supposed to go on three weekends after spring break. We had a little bit more than a week until performance, and I was in the room leading rehearsal with three of my actors.
I know the premise of canceling shows are for people’s health and for the community’s health, but I am still sad about the shows that I was producing. The one for Emerson Stage is called New Fest. Except for that, Chuang Stage, the Chinese theater group I was in, had a very large production, which we only do once a year. It was called The Ugly Town, and was supposed to go on the weekend of April 18th. We were all very excited about the show this year because we had an exciting cast, a very exciting group of designers, and we spent a lot of money. It’s definitely disappointing but also at the same time, I know in the future, I will eventually get to work on other shows. But for the people who are involved in this, that’s maybe the last time they got to do this. So, I felt really sad and sorry about the missing part of their experience.
I was really mad about a lot of the news in the U.S. It seemed to me the numbers were very cold, and people were unable to sympathize with the pain that China was going through. I remember, in February, we had this event on campus called Understanding Coronavirus. One of the panelists said it’s nothing to worry about, coronavirus is just flu, it’s not that serious. I was so angry because it’s not just the flu. Nobody back then believed me; they thought I was brainwashed.
I live in the South End; the apartment building was primarily white, and my neighbors find my presence disturbing, and that’s something that’s really heavy on me. When I go get groceries, and I wear a mask, I can tell people’s eyes are literally saying ‘are you sick?’ I feel like for the past four months I’m constantly fighting people about information regarding the coronavirus and the correct use of masks. I’m a very nice person in general, I’m quiet. But these four months, I’ve been so loud.
I didn’t feel any sadness regarding graduation until yesterday. Some of my friends from Boston University walked around their campus in graduation gowns and took pictures with the buildings. Since this pandemic happened, I’ve been thinking more practically in terms of my artist community, what’s going to happen to my internships, what’s going to happen next year, and are people around me safe—all those questions. And yet, I haven’t thought so much about the fact that I’m graduating and maybe wrapping up that period of my life with some sort of picture, or a remark, or a celebration, or thank you, or a moment to celebrate. Waking up this morning, I can’t emotionally move on from college until I know it’s ending.
I will never forget the activity that we did in my advanced level directing class. Our professor asked us to create a structure using folding chairs. The challenge is you have to put your chair on top of another chair to make the structure seem more powerful and to make your chair seem the most powerful in this piece of art. We had so much fun and got so serious with them. I remember I put my chair on top of a moving door, which was like seven feet above the floor. For a moment, I was like, this is something that could only happen at Emerson. I love this acting school so much.
Right now I am in California, living with my younger brother who goes to school here. Both my parents are at home in China. I constantly ask myself why I am stuck here. If I go back I would be stuck in quarantine for two weeks, and I can’t do that. I would go crazy. The second thing is really personal for me. I know that every time I go back home, it would be really difficult for me to come back. Both emotionally and work-wise. If I go back, I might not be able to come back because I might not find a reason to. My parents want me to go back, and they will find things for me to do. I am planning play reads on Zoom with my friends, and I can’t do that in China. I don’t know what’s going to