“Sonder” Behind-The-Scenes Part 2: Rehearsals and Run-Throughs

sonder rehearsal


The word rushed through my veins, buzzed through my head. It was the first thing I blurted out when my roommate asked, how was rehearsal? I had just returned to my dorm from a full festival run-through for Sonder, a collection of three original one-acts I wrote. It was the first time the whole cast and crew got to see the other one-acts in progress. With our production team designers in the room, our cast and crew of about 15 finally got a glimpse of the big picture that will leap to life in less than three weeks.

And it was absolutely stunning.

Repurposing classroms for rehearsal spaces!



Leading up to our festival run through, each one-act cast spent hours upon hours in rehearsal. Not only did actors take time to memorize their lines and block the scene, but also digging into their characters’ backstories. Whether it was monologue work or physical exercises to get the actors to loosen up, every minute built a lusher world and a deeper character under the guidance of the directors.

Blackboard brainstorming for our characters.


Being the writer and an actor has posed a unique set of challenges. My director and I both had the well-founded fear that I would blur the two during rehearsals. After all, it would be so easy to make on-the-spot edits if my tongue tripped over a line. So I told her to call me out if I ever overstepped my role as an actor. She also held me to the standard as other actors out of respect for my words: no paraphrasing. Every word, every line, exactly as it is on the page. Watching my directors’ meticulousness in dissecting every word has shown me how much power the script holds. I’ve learned to treat my words as a playwright with more care and consideration. And despite the fact that I wrote these words, memorization is still a challenge!

When I wrote “Winter’s Tale,” I had no idea that I would end up playing Winter. All I wanted was to write a role that Asian American actresses would love to play. The roles out there that are specifically tailored to us are limited–I wanted to broaden that repertoire a bit. And now, stepping into that role, things have certainly come full circle. Toni Morrison once wrote, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I wrote what I wanted to see into existence.

And Sonder is coming into existence. As the writer, it was extremely gratifying to glimpse a very rough draft of what the show will ultimately look like. Though it was not quite showtime, merely having more people in the room for our first full festival run-through raised the energy levels and subsequently changed our performances. It was refreshing to witness fresh reactions of those who were not so deeply immersed in the world of the one-acts. Unexpected laughter, sighs, snaps, or sassy okay’s from the audience brought the entire group together while giving the actors an energy boost.

That night was electric. Our future is bright. We’ll have to hit the ground running right after we get back from spring break, kicking straight into tech week. But this team’s energy is contagious, euphoric and uplifting. This is what dreams are made of.

Sonder begins at 8pm at Hopper Cabaret from March 28-30, 2019, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday.

Click here for Sonder Behind-The-Scenes Part 1!

sonder poster


Written by Cassandra Hsiao, Sonder is a collection of three original one-acts that deal with the discovery and rediscovery of identity. These funny and yet poignant plays examines what we think we know about ourselves and others–only to spin it on its head. It is a challenge to you to step out of your own shoes and experience the inexplicable feeling of sonder, that those around you have lives as intricate and messy and beautiful as your own.

Sonder features the work of three directors bringing their unique takes to each of the plays:

“Supermarket of Lost:” Three souls collide in the Supermarket of Lost, each desperately searching for something they once had in this cosmic warehouse.

“Fire Hazard:” At the Principal’s Office at West Oaks High, a rebel and a star student learn that the truth cannot be incinerated.

“A Winter’s Tale:” Winter and Benji are the perfect couple on the perfect date. But when one text goes awry, Winter begins to question: Is Benji who he says he is?