Street: What have you learned from stepping into performing arts? What has been formative about it?
Pallavi Wakharkar: I definitely think what’s been formative are the communities I’ve gained from being a part of performing arts. It’s really a tight–knit community, no matter what group you’re in. And no matter what role you play, you’re still important. So through Excelano, I’m a performer. But through Bloomers, I’m behind the scenes doing tech. And so I think it’s pretty cool to be able to do both of those things and see both the different sides of performing arts… Performing arts isn’t easy.
Street: How did you get involved in Excelano?
PW: So I’ve always been writing. Ever since I was a little kid, I would write these weird little stories and I’d keep them in folders labeled confidential. I’d do that all the time and I would draw pictures of characters that had just elaborate stories that I would make up. So I knew about Excelano actually before I got into Penn. I thought they were so cool. I watched all [of] their YouTube videos. But I actually auditioned freshman fall and I didn’t make it at first. I think that was really important to me because it gave me a chance to kind of figure out what I really wanted to do at Penn. I wondered if it was a good fit for me and I decided to try out one more time and see what happened. And I got it, and it’s been just an amazing community of people who really support each other.
Street: Do you have any advice for people who are scared to try and get into performing arts or have been rejected?
PW: I think that’s the really unfortunate part about a lot of clubs at Penn, is that they’re just inherently exclusive. We join them, and we want to be in them, yet we’re complicit in all these systems of rejection, not feeling like you’re good enough. But I think as somebody who was rejected from the group that I have come to lead, rejection is something that we face all the time. As a senior right now, I’m getting rejected from jobs literally on the daily. I think it’s really important to not think of rejection as something that’s the end–all be–all but just kind of a notification from the world that this wasn’t the right path for you. We’re rejected every single day and people don’t really talk about it, especially [during] this time of year. A lot of things are going on, especially OCR–[there is] a lot of job interviews and you only really hear about people’s successes.
Street: What would you say is your dream job?
PW: I think my dream job would be to just live in a city somewhere and write books. And the sad thing is it’s not necessarily too feasible, at least at first. I think for now I’d be really happy just breaking into something… I’m not too sure what I want to do. I think a lot of people say things like, 'I don’t know what I’m doing but it’s totally fine.' For me, I wish that’s how I was, but it’s not. I wish I knew what I was doing. I’m okay with admitting that.
Street: You help build sets and pretty much everything for Bloomers. Have you learned your way around all the power tools?
PW: Yeah, I have. That’s been something that’s been really empowering, is just learning how to use power tools like saws and drills. It’s something that women aren’t really taught to do. And so it feels good to make things with your hands. And after a long, stressful day, it can be cool to go to the shop and just paint, get messy, build things that didn’t used to exist before. It’s a good release.
Street: When you're performing a pre–written piece for VagMons, how do you get into performing and connecting with it?
PW: So last year I performed a really important piece called “My Vagina Was My Village,” and it’s about how rape and sexual assault were used as systematic tools of war during the Bosnia conflict or the Bosnian Civil War. That’s a piece I could really connect to personally and I kind of was able to put myself in that emotional state and, while I couldn't relate to everything I was performing, I felt it, deeply, and so I think that’s a really interesting thing about performing. For me it’s kind of putting yourself in a certain mental space.
Street: What’s your writing process like?
PW: In terms of my personal writing process, I keep a journal which I write in quite frequently. I usually write when I’m feeling something deeply, like when I’m really sad or anxious or stressed. It really helps me to put it on a page and seeing words on a page [makes] whatever it is [bothering me] a lot smaller.
Street: What was your first screen name?
PW: So I took Latin for six years. My first screen name is not anything that’s really that embarrassing, it’s just more nerdy. So I really like the word for light in Latin, which is lux, so my first screen name was lux033.
Street: If you are what you eat, then what are you?
PW: Oh man, if I am what I eat then I’m just all over the place. It just depends on my day and my mood, so I guess that kind of speaks to my general scatteredness.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn...
PW: [P]eople who make time and people who don’t, and oftentimes I am both of those people. But I really try to be somebody who makes time for others, and that’s really important at a place like Penn.
Street: What would you be infamous for?
PW: I think I could be infamous for writing a book or a poem directly about someone else. That’s definitely something I do, if you’ve hurt my feelings or generally been shitty to me, I probably wrote about it and shared it with others.
Street: What’s one question we forgot to ask you?
PW: I guess you guys forgot to ask me who my favorite poet is, which is really good actually because I don’t have one. I think it changes from day to day, so I’m glad I didn’t have to answer that.