Working with Theater of the Oppressed in Brazil

My friend and fellow playwright Kyoung Park just spent 3 months working with Agusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed organization in Brazil, researching, observing and participating in many programs.

Lucky.

He’s written an article for Korea Times that sums up some of Boal’s main contributions and a bit on exactly how far reaching his work was.

Check out his article here.

Found Objects and Harold and Kumar

The folks over at Significant Objects are bringing a whole new meaning to the words, “found objects.”

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The curators find a bunch of objects (for under $2) at garage sales, thrift stores, on the street, etc., then commission a writer to invent a story about the object–giving it a history, a life, a past, a “significance.”

Then, the objects are sold on e-bay. 

I like it.  I’ve sort of always loved found things.  Re-appropriated, re-made, re-contextualized.

In other news, Harold and Kumar are both respectively, well, in the news. 

John Cho is featured in Asian Pacific Arts and talks about how he used to be an English teacher during the day and act in plays at East West Players at night.  Kal Penn quit his sweet gig on House to work as Associate Director in the Office of Public Liason for Obama’s administration.

It seems to be our imperitive as Asian Americans to be overachievers.
Or to die trying.

Me, I’m more of an underdog than an overachiever.  But my nose, oh yeah, it’s to the grindstone.

Poetry, Found Text and Birthdays in America

I promised I would try to start getting to things before they close so that I could tell people about them.  I missed it this time, and I’m sad about that, but you can still check out Jenny Holzer’s Protect Protect, if virtually.  She has always wowed me with her truths and aphorisms, but now she is working with found text, heavily redacted, declassified documents she found at the National Security Archive.

I also saw the lovely Pious Poetic Pie from Fluid Motion last week and it was good to see poetry onstage again.  Beautifully directed by Denyse Owens and beautifully rendered  remake of Medea by poet Yubelky Rodriguez.  And, this guy’s post-show performance was also a revelation.  Makes me wanna write in verse again.  His band, the Mighty Third Rail, violinist, bassist and voice, was mighty fine.

And I hear some people are keeping their birthdays quiet.  Happy Birthday, Ed Lin.  Keep taking down the man.

Oh, and speaking of birthdays, you’ve got one more week to see American Hwangap, Lloyd Suh’s newest directed by Trip Cullman at the Wild Project.  A touching, heartbreaking, very funny play about what happens when a Korean American man comes home after deserting his family 15 years before.  And it’s his birthday.  But don’t trust me.  Variety, Theatermania, the NY Times, Time Out, they all friggin’ love it.

I miss L.A.

Have you seen Dogtown and Z-boys?

I have lived in NYC since 1996 and there are a rare few things that make me miss Los Angeles.

This movie made me miss it.

It’s a vibe.  A wildness.  White hot sun and dirty streets.  It’s a particular kind of rebellion which birthed the Zephyr crew who took surf moves to concrete and brought skateboarding out of obscurity and party-trick-land onto the streets.  Out of a wasteland, these guys made art.  The youngest member of the crew, Jay Adams, was 13.  I was inspired, but I also wondered what it is that causes great rumblings, causes people to build something where no one else will.

Know what I mean?

The Good Negro, Joe Turner’s and That Pretty Pretty

Been a busy couple of weeks teaching.  One of the benefits to what I do for a living is that I get to see some great theater for free, sometimes things I wouldn’t afford to be able to see on my own.  Working for TDF,  I saw The Good Negro, Tracy Scott Wilson’s new play about the civil rights movement and loosely based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  She brings the man down off his pedestal and humanizes him for sure.  And in these Obama days, it’s an interesting reflection on the power of rhetoric.  I was also blown away by the magic and craftsmanship of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Lincoln Center’s new production with Ernie Hudson (Yes, that’s right.  Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters, Ernie Hudson.  I think he’s great in this.).  A forgotten song.  A missing woman.  A shower of gold.  A magic man who binds people together.  It’s 3 hours long and it seemed like a mere moments.

It’s the kind of play that makes a playwright envious and awestruck and hungry to see it again and wondering if she’ll ever get the mastery and imagination necessary to build something like that.  I am ashamed to say this is only the second of his plays that I’ve encountered.  Now I have to read the other 8.

Also saw, That Pretty Pretty at Rattlestick.  Man.  She broke all the rules.  I was telling my Pace kids this week that if you’re going to be artmakers, you need to be seeing thing as much as humanly possible.  I had them read Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize Address.  It is sort of all over the place but he talks about the real and the unreal, chasing the truth in artmaking, but more than anything, being aware of the world around you and the implications of the deeds being done.  I think the thing about Sheila Callaghan’s play is that she’s somehow capturing the way that we are thinking right now.  She deals with gender and the mess of making art, stealing and borrowing other people’s stories and messing with people because you are stronger.  The narrative is fractured, but I think it reflects these times of piecemeal narratives and stories told, then re-told, then reinterpreted, then broken and re-ordered and turned into bricolage.  Pretty cool.

On another note, some success yesterday with a class in a long term residency that I have that had not really taken to writing or performing so much yet.  But, I did some Teacher in Role work with them and let them ask questions of the character and suddenly, all they wanted to do is be involved and give the character advice on how to be an agent of change in her own life.  It really stunned me and affirmed the power of this kind of work.  It just works.

Oh, and have you seen Electric Company lately?