There was a full house Oct. 15 at the San Diego Central Library where student finalists performed for VAMP — the Visual/Audio Monologue Performance.
Not only did the seats fill up quickly, but there were also students sitting on the floor across the library in order to see these students perform their monologues.The nine performers at VAMP were Itzahana Torres, Shahad Kadhim, Issa Cummings, Andrew Powers, Nay Htoo, Joanie Lopez, Shelby McQuown, Christopher Kennison and Brandy De Batte.
“The turnout was incredible; we really did not expect this many people,” English professor Patricia McGhee said. “This is the biggest crowd we ever had. We’re thinking it was maybe between 350 to 450 people and the biggest crowd we’ve had was 250. So it really was amazing.”
With the theme being “ the other side” there were many different personal experiences that the performers shared.
The first performer, Kennison, shared his story of going to jail for a robbery he did not commit. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Lopez spoke about an incident at a young age where her father drove after drinking at a quinceañera with her in the vehicle, leading to her losing the ability to walk and the death of her father.
Cummings talked about her experience growing up with the absence of her drug-addicted mother.
Kadhim spoke about getting bullied as a child in an all girls school in Jordan after leaving Iraq as a refugee.
De Batter spoke about leaving for Las Vegas with her boyfriend and two dogs. They hardly had any money and they both had drug addictions, leaving her homeless until she decided to come back home after a car hit her.
Torres talked about the deportation of her parents.
Powers shared an experience about coming to San Diego and meeting a despicable person.
Htoo spoke about his experience coming to the U.S. from Burma and the difficulties of trying to fit in.
McQuown talked about being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, but after time found that she no longer believed in a religion that was forced upon her by birth.
These students shared personal experiences to an audience of strangers while managing to keep it together, except for Lopez who couldn’t hold her tears at the very end of her monologue.
“There’s a lot of good positive energy here so I took that and I tried to transmit it back. I rehearsed a lot in front of my creative writing class prior to this,” Lopez said. “I rehearsed and rehearsed, but I didn’t cry when I was rehearsing and I think I cried at the performance because maybe it was my dad that was here with me. “
The performers were emotionally invested in their pieces allowing the audience to connect with them. With people lined up to the walls and every chair filled, the audience was enthralled by the performances given.
“I actually enjoyed the performances today, hearing their life stories mean so much to me. I felt so connected especially to Issa Cummings when she spoke about her mother being absent from her life,” student Patricia Rucker said. “I felt for her when she spoke about her mother, it was relatable.”
For more information about VAMP, you can visit its website at www.sosayweallonline.com.