Written by Kyoung H. Park
Directed by Carlos Armesto
Performed by Ariel Estrada, Daniel K. Isaac, Talynm Jinn Kim, Yanghee Lee, Julian Leong, Bert Matias, Amy Kim Waschke, and Virginia Wing
disOriented tells the story of Ju Yeon, an immigrant living in New York, who has distanced herself from her Korean roots. When a sudden crisis hits her family, she must return to Korea and face the parents and the life she abandoned long ago. A dancing spirit caught between the worlds of tradition and modernity guides us through past and present, propelling the family members to their ultimate fates.
Choreography: Elisabetta Spuria
Set Design: Adam Koch
Lighting Design: Jake DeGroot
Sound Design: David Margolin Lawson
Costume Design: Carla Bellisio
"Kyoung H. Park's haunting disOriented could be about any woman, but is about a Korean one. Fan dancing, recent historical events, and cuisine specifically distinguish Ju Yeon (Amy Kim Waschke) and her clan, yet disOriented's long-distance and generational conflicts are universal. Ju Yeon's loyalties are divided between her family in Manhattan and parents in Seoul, when a crisis layered with secrets and half-truths unbalances an already precarious situation. Guided by a dancing spirit (Yanghee Lee), Ju Yeon finally confronts her past to face the present. Park tells her story in a series of scenes presented like photographs randomly removed from a box. While not in order, each contains a memorable story."--Patricia Contino, Flavorpill, Editor Pick
"disOriented shows the fragmented reality of a family—but also family as the highest value of reality: how the family measures up in comparison to other Koreans, as well as internal dreams and ambitions. It's from that point of reference that the father/husband asserts that "This home, this family, this is what is real. From now on and forever: you will always be this." Such dialogue made me think about how a sense of possessions (financial prosperity, college degrees, achievement) is often considered more real than what binds us together, as humans, as family. As custodians of dynamic ideas and as propellers of will. How we may gather around a celebratory table, grateful for shelter, meals, company, but despite gratefulness, that which unifies remains passive, unexercised. I can't think of anything more urgent right now than to evaluate what we hold as 'real', and to untangle each sense of inherent unity."--Patricia Silva, VelvetPark
"Two-thirds of the way through disOriented, five major characters take the stage in a sequence in contrast from the rest of the show. The central character, Ju Yeon, is conspicuously absent from the stage but her role is clear: she is the tie that binds these people together (the on-stage characters are her mother and father, her two sons, and her husband). In a sense, the audience becomes Ju Yeon as the characters alternate lines that illustrate their individual quirks and demands, punctuated by the abrupt snaps of a paper fan opening, as a dancer moves dizzily among the actors. The effect is indeed disorienting, and I realized then just how difficult life must be for Ju Yeon. She is essentially torn in five directions as she struggles to meet the demands of some of her family members while shrinking away from the others... Playwright Kyoung Park says that disOriented is based on the relations between members of his own Chilean-Korean family. Though the story would certainly appeal to an audience who is familiar with the kinds of tensions that cross-cultural families endure, it also works as a window into that world for those whose families are not fragmented by distance and cultural differences."" --Weston Clay, Theater is Easy
Production and Development History
World Premiere: Theater C @ Peter Jay Sharp Theater on 42nd Street, in association with Pacific Beat Collective, February 16- March 5, 2011.
Workshop Productions: Theater C. Director: Carlos Armesto. November 2010; Diverse City Theater Company. Director: Carlos Armesto. February 2009.
Public Readings: Kyung Hee University, December 2008; Ma-Yi Theater's LABFest, April 2008.
Written for the Royal Court Theater's Young Writer's Programme (London, 2007). Cherry Lane Mentor's Project Semi-Finalist (2009), NYU HotInk Festival Semi-Finalist (2010).
Read more here in American Theater Magazine, here for our Off Off Online feature, and here in The Brooklyn Rail. To learn more about the play's early process, read Kyoung's essays Massacre in Korea" & 'disOriented (Korea Times, Feb. 18, 2009) and Writing at Royal Court Theatre (Korea Times, Dec. 12, 2007).
Production Stills by Jake DeGroot