It’s been a while since my last Kyoung Update. I’m burning the midnight oil writing this one before going to Wesleyan University on tour with Mabou Mines, so here’s a brief recap.
After launching PBC and producing a second workshop production of TALA at HERE’s Summer Sublet Series, I had a meltdown. A series of really awful incidents took place from May through October, and I just had a moment where I couldn’t go on and ran away to San Francisco. This is probably not the best way to re-engage with whoever reads my emails, but “the incident” turned out to be quite transformative. With some new clarity of my limitations and personal boundaries, I returned to New York five days later and I got back to the grind. While the reality of my struggles still remain, I’ve got a better handle on the personal, financial, psychological and legal issues (pertaining to my immigration) that I needed to adjust to, if I’m to stay in the city and keep pursuing an artistic path.
Returning mid-October, I joined Second Generation (2g), an Asian-American theater company, as their Director of Strategic Planning and we launched “Community Voices: Queer API,” a new community-based writing workshop for the Asian-American LGBQT community. I organized a panel discussion during 2g’s annual Instant Vaudeville, which was produced at HERE, and over the winter, we selected six writers who’ll meet in March in a writing workshop led by Deen, a first-generation, South Asian playwright. This program is really exciting—it’s unique and truly serves an underrepresented minority even within the Asian-American community—and I’m happy that this program is a joint effort between 2g and GAPIMNY, Q-Wave, and SALGA, three local, queer, organizations I’ve come to know while volunteering in GAPIMNY’s Steering Committee.
Late November/early December, I joined the Mabou Mines troupe once again and continued work on “GLASS GUIGNOL: The Brother and Sister Play,” which is a new play co-conceived by Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell, inspired by the late works of Tennessee Williams. GLASS GUIGNOL was one of three projects supported by Sundance Theater Institute at Mass MoCA in North Adams, and it was a real treat to focus on this project and see it grow so fruitfully while we were in residence. A particular treat was to reconnect with a former teacher of mine, Tim Crouch, who was there working on a new play, as well.
Soon after the holidays, I continued working with Lee on his other project, LA DIVINA CARICATURA, which had a special presentation in this year’s Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater. In my mind, this is Lee’s magnum opus and I am so amazed at the life-long journey he has gone through creating this piece. I interviewed him late last fall for an article in The Brooklyn Rail published last December, and I’m so excited to see where we head with the show before its premiere at La Mama at the end of this year.
Now, we’re picking back up where we left off at Sundance and taking GLASS GUIGNOL to Wesleyan University, where people will be able to see a second workshop presentation of the play. Our first workshop was at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival two years ago. Since then, the show has gone through some incredible changes and matured a great deal—the script has truly found its form, and all of the technical elements of the piece are becoming clearer yet more ambitious, making this a formidable show.
After GUIGNOL, I will be directing a reading of a new play I wrote during the Christmas holidays. I try to write a new play every year and I was freaking out that I might not accomplish that last year. Luckily, I’d been playing with an idea since last summer, when I wrote a ten-minute play called “The Meeting” as my graduation piece from Ensemble Studio Theater’s Youngblood.
My new play is called HOMOSOCIAL and it’s about four struggling artists doing the queerest things to straighten out their lives. It’s based on autobiography, including “the incident” from last fall, and it features cross-gendered/drag performances by three women of color and a man in drag. The play is the most linear, character-driven piece I have ever written, but I’ll vomit if this play is ever done in a “naturalistic” setting.
HOMOSOCIAL will have its first public reading as part of the Ma-Yi Theater’s Spring LabFest on Sunday, Feb. 24th at 7:30PM at the Theater at St. Clements, 423 W. 46th Street (between 9th and 10th Avs). My cast is freakin’ awesome! I’m working with Daniel K. Isaac (PBC’s TALA), Flor De Liz Perez (PBC’s TALA), April Matthis (Young Jean Lee’s LEAR), and Jessica Weinstein (Mabou Mines GLASS GUIGNOL.) The reading is free and reservations can be made at [email protected].
If you’re wondering how I’m doing and/or worried about me—I’ll be fine. Though I’m swamped with paperwork for my Artist Visa and I’m still overwhelmed by the financial struggles of being an artist, a co-founder of PBC took a NYFA Artist Entrepreneurship course and together, we developed a business plan which was very well received. If I had more resources to follow-through on my business plan and just focus on my own work, I would probably keep going with less frustrations. Alas, since that’s not the case, I just thank my lucky stars that I’ve been able to accomplish so much work, and I remind myself to keep learning while I get to work with some of the best artists I’ve ever worked with in my life.
Over the New Year’s, my best friend suggested I focus on my writing and gave me three clear directives: “Money. Playwriting. Fast-track.” I don’t know how much faster I could go, or how much more I could write. So I’m focusing my attention on grant-writing and prizes/fellowships, although not being American makes me ineligible for like 95% of the opportunities out there.
Sometimes, I feel like playwrights at this point in my career catch some sort of break, but that truly doesn’t apply to me due to my nationality so I’m learning to do everything by myself: writing/ directing/ producing/ designing/ production management and all of the other business stuff I never learned. My tax guy was super impressed with my self-made spreadsheets and accounting system. Thank god for my fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, which provides so much free arts administration courses online.
Also, I’ve been seeing someone steady for about eight months and I’m totally in love—my relationship is a true blessing. It’s taught me how to prioritize my work but not let myself over-commit. And now, I’m making an earnest attempt to appreciate my time doing other things besides theater. Whenever possible, my boyfriend and I spend a lot of time outdoors and take naps in parks—we bum and do nothing and that’s just what my shrink prescribed.
If you got to the end of this, thanks for reading! If you’re in New York, I hope you’ll come to HOMOSOCIAL. The theater is big so there’s plenty of seats available!