By Anh Ta
As winter term gets into full swing, Lawrentians are gearing up for Lawrence International’s biggest event of the year: Cabaret. The final stretch to Cabaret 2015 started off with four days of auditions, which began last Thursday, Jan. 29 and ended on Sunday, Feb. 1. Over the course of 4 days, numerous groups and individuals auditioned for the chance to perform for two nights: April 11 and 12. This year, Cabaret is coming back with a lot of excitement and a line-up more diverse than ever.
Much thought and effort has gone into the preparation of Cabaret. As the biggest event of the year for Lawrence International (LI), the Cabaret 2015 conversation has continued since last May. The show has been running for 39 years; and this year, the LI Board is prioritizing cultural representation.
LI President, junior Amaan Khan, was excited to share his visions for this year’s spectacle.
“This year, we are trying to emphasize cultural awareness and cultural accuracy more,” said Khan. “So one of the big four categories that we have for selection is accuracy of presentation. We want to make sure that we are not exoticizing cultures.”
While striving for accuracy, the board also looks forward to the most culturally diverse line-up possible. The vast number of ethnicities and cultures present on campus makes it difficult for LI Board to feature and acknowledge every single one in the show. As such, they are “trying as much as possible to get authenticity and to choose the highest-quality and most representative performances,” said Khan.
Accurate cultural representation aside, LI Board is also striving for the highest quality of production. This year, a Creative Director and two Lighting Designers joined the team to advise the Board on technical details as well as giving artistic directions.
The LI Board benefits from this invaluable learning experience. They also got to immerse themselves in all the different cultures, as Khan says, “Cabaret is a lot of small samples of each cultures.”
The auditions have attracted multiple international student groups on campus to showcase their traditions. However, according to freshman Brittany Prather, who is involved in 2 different performances, she wished to see more involvement of the non-international students in cultural events such as these.
“When I talked to my friends who are Americans, many of them did not realize that everyone could participate in this event,” said Prather. “There are many different cultures present on campus, but many domestic students do not interact with other cultures enough.”
This is something LI has been dealing with, especially with cultural events like Cabaret. LI’s event coordinator, junior Hailie Nguyen, addressed this issue: “Many domestic students think that LI and our events are only for international students, but our events are almost always for the entire campus.” She added, “We have been trying to encourage domestic students to come to our general meeting and have their voices heard about what they want to do or any ideas they have for LI.”
Nguyen remained optimistic about Cabaret, based on her experience. “One good thing is that Cabaret is always well-attended by domestic and international students alike,” said Nguyen. “This is something LI really takes pride in.”
Despite the monumental amount of work put into Cabaret, the LI Board does not stop there. There are many ongoing and upcoming small events that promote cultural immersion for all Lawrentians. As the Lunar New Year is coming up, the preparation for Lawrence’s Lunar New Year Exhibition on Feb. 21, a collaboration between LI, International Students Service and various international student groups on campus, is in full swing as well.
Collaborations such as these are an integral part of LI’s vision for better promotion of cultures on campus. “As we all have our limited resources, funding and time, the more we collaborate, the more we can do to promote cultures,” said Khan. “It’s still possible for us to do much, much more.”
From the hustle and bustle of the Cabaret auditions, Lawrentians can look forward to a great show in Spring term, with many other interesting cultural events to take part in and immerse in the diversity that Lawrence has to offer.