Kyoung Update: New York, Chile

by kyoung on December 31, 2015

Greetings from Chile!

As 2015 comes to an end, I’d like to take a moment to take stock of the many ups and downs I’ve had with my playwriting and theater company, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat.

TALAWe started the year with a bang—the World Premiere of TALA at the Performance Project @ University Settlement. TALA blended my autobiographical story as a gay, Korean-Chilean playwright living in America with the story of Pepe and Lupe, two lovers inspired by Chilean poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. TALA received rave reviews in the press, but more importantly, I was able to facilitate community-based programming and activities to address issues of immigration, political trauma, to discuss how we can heal from unresolved, historical wounds through the theater.

PillowtalkFollowing the premiere of TALA, I began the development of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s new, work-in-progress called PILLOWTALK, a gay, bedroom drama that incorporates ballet’s pas de deux to examine the shifting values of race and gay marriage in our community. With support of an artist residency at BRIC in Brooklyn, we produced a sold-out, workshop production of the show. PILLOWTALK was performed by Daniel K. Isaac and Raja Feather Kelly and created in collaboration with composer Helen Yee, visual artists Wade Kramm and Andrew Jordan, set designer Marie Yokoyama, sound designer Lawrence Schober, and lighting designer Chuan-Chi Chan. You can learn more about this show through a TV interview aired by BRIC Live.

As Kyoung’s Pacific Beat keeps growing with the support of a handful of institutional grants and a diverse pool of very generous, individual donors, our small, grass-roots company has reached a tipping point where we must organize and plan the future to keep going.

LMCC.ASILuckily, I was invited to be part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Artist Summer Intensive at Governor’s Island this summer, to spend 5 days receiving intensive training on strategic financial planning, marketing, fundraising, accounting, to set goals for the company. Kyoung’s Pacific Beat also became a member of the Alliance of Resident Theaters in New York (ART/NY) and over the course of a few weeks in the fall, I developed an Organizational Profile for our company which helped me launch KPB’s first Leadership Council.

While making theater is my pleasure, learning the business side of theater has been a crash-course into reality. I have learned many important lessons, usually through failure and trial-by-fire, so I am honored to announce that I was accepted as one of six artists/ arts organizations that are part of The Field’s Leadership Fund Fellowship (FLF) program.

FLFThe FLF is a 16-month long program which will pair me with an experienced (and paid) arts managing fellow to work with me starting March 2016, and this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. For a while, I’ve felt like too much of my time was being spent in the administration and management of my company, and while I am happy with the level of our company’s productivity, I know that I can do more if I can spend less time thinking about the business, and more time making the art.

Currently, I’m in Santiago, Chile with support from a TCG Global Connections grant, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, to be an Artist-in-Residence at Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) for a month. During this time, I will be working on three different artistic activities:

K-ONDA CollageMy first project is called K-ONDA HALMET, a new community-based theater project I’m writing and directing, in collaboration with popular, Chilean dance troupes that gather at GAM’s public spaces to dance K-Pop (Korean pop music choreographies). K-ONDA HAMLET will become a performance piece in which I’ll collage interviews of my collaborators, as well as my adaptation of Heiner Muller’s HAMLETMACHINE in Spanish, K-Pop choreographies, and the story of Daniel Zamudio, a young, gay, dancer who was killed by neo-nazis in a public park in Santiago. Zamudio’s death and the protests following his passing led to the Zamudio Law (in 2012), a much needed piece of legislation that now protects people from hate crimes and discrimination in Chile.

InterdramThe second project I’m working on is an experimental playwriting workshop I taught in partnership with Interdram, a bourgeoning organization that supports contemporary Chilean playwrights. Through an open submission process, we selected seven playwrights from diverse backgrounds, training, and professional experience, to work with me over the course of two weeks to write a new play. We currently have seven plays that have been birthed from scratch, and over the course of the next few months, we will plan a second phase of this project to support the plays, once their first drafts are complete.

The third activity I’ll be taking part of is my participation in Festival Santiago a Mil, one of the largest, international, theater festivals in Latin America. I am so excited to see so much contemporary, Chilean theater flourishing all over Santiago, and to have the chance to see some of my favorite artists, including the American company Elevator Repair Service, the Polish company Song of Goat Theatre, and Greek choreographer Dmitris Papaioannou. I will also be in Santiago for the Festival’s Presenter Week, where I’ll join TCG’s delegation to share some of the work I’m doing in New York with an international, artistic community in Chile.

Conscious Language PanelA lot of things have happened this year and quite honestly, I don’t know how. But as opportunities arise for the future, I have learned to worry less about the practical things, to make more time to think about how my work can better address the racial inequity that impoverishes artists, and how to organize communities to tackle the greater social issues that plague our society. Since the fall, I’ve been constantly revisiting the original intent of my work—to integrate my passions for peace and playwriting  through theater-making—and to ask whether the work I’m creating is making any substantial impact at all.

Open SpectrumI’ve been told that my work looks a lot less like a traditional theater company, and more like a movement, and this makes me remember the many leaders I researched while studying peace in Korea. Nonviolent, grass-roots movements did lead to substantial changes in the world, so connecting deeper with the people that support me has become a priority, as I learn how to organize myself and my community to do better work next year.

As this year comes to an end, I’d also like to say thank you for your support, for your encouragement, and for your participation in my work. While playwriting is quite a solitary practice, theater is a social art form, and I cannot but acknowledge the importance of your role in the work of our company. If you’d like to get more involved, please feel free to visit our website and if you’d like to reach out to me directly, please feel free to send me an email!

Peace,

Kyoung H. Park

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