October's Haunting & Illuminating Plays!
what's scarier than family?
I'm excited to share October's plays with you. This month's playwrights, Hansol Jung and Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, are two of my favorite emerging, contemporary artists.
Both of these plays are, in a sense, ghost stories. Our parents and grandparents' story influence our sense identity. But, how well do well do we know where we come from? What family mysteries have been long concealed, or lost altogether? Most importantly, when these truths are revealed how does that change us and how do we move forward?
Our family's silent truths linger beyond their own lifetime, haunting those of us left behind searching for answers.
“With this outraged, deeply compassionate play, Ms. Jung is kicking, and expanding our understanding.” - The New York Times
Among the Dead explores a painful history. However, Jung manages to maintain a lightness through incredible compassion and striking humor. This beautifully crafted play mixes reality with a magical spirituality that not only works, but is surprisingly affecting.
Summary: Number Four is a Korean sex-slave fleeing from the Imperial Japanese army of WWII. Luke Woods is an abandoned American soldier. The two find each other in an attempt to survive the war. They end up with more than they'd bargained for - a baby. Ana, a 30 year old woman in 1975 finds herself in a hotel room in Seoul, Korea, getting to know Luke and Number Four’s tale through Luke's journal, and a little bit of help from Jesus.
"…an exceptionally brilliant piece of writing…gut-punchingly honest work." —Time Out (Chicago).
As the title suggests, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins steals from many playwrights before him that wrote plays of a family in an explosive reunion. However, Jacobs-Jenkins subverts this and adds his own perspective - in particular in respect to the tensions around race and discrimination. Like in real life, the play doesn't allow for a simple and satisfying solution. Though powerful and clear, the play allows the family's mess to stay, well, a bit messy.
Summary: Every estranged member of the Lafayette clan has descended upon the crumbling Arkansas homestead to settle the accounts of the newly-dead patriarch. As his three adult children sort through a lifetime of hoarded mementos and junk, they collide over clutter, debt, and a contentious family history. But after a disturbing discovery surfaces among their father's possessions, the reunion takes a turn for the explosive, unleashing a series of crackling surprises and confrontations.
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