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Plum de Force

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Kristine Haruna Lee
August 18, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director/Playwright.

What is your show about?
A new play about the life cycle of plums who are also witches, contemplating the modern consciousness of our food.

Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Hong Kong, but I don't remember it too much. I do remember going to an all-girls international catholic school in Japan. Boy, do I remember that... I grew up speaking Japanese to my parents (My dad was Taiwanese-American, but he spoke Japanese fluently because his family of 13 brothers and sister were relocated to Japan after the war, a family legend), and I spoke English to my little sister as well as in school.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this summer that...?
... that is about an acid trip I took in Berlin not too long ago. My friends and I ended up in front of a supermarket, which we thought was a night club (for some reason, there's high security at Berlin supermarkets in the middle of the night), but once we 'got in', we were flying high as kites, especially on the colorful produce section. After I had some time to process my trip, I began to connect with the journey of a fruit: from tree, to supermarket, to fruit basket. I imagined that, for a plum, going from a natural, rooted, home space to entering the environment of a supermarket must be similar to entering a club in Berlin. A completely foreign landscape littered in plastic, lights, color, sounds... and that became the inspiration, as well as the foundation for the show.

Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
At one moment of the show, the plums are put on trial by a wax apple a la "the salem witch trial", and a bag of sugar comes out as a bailiff. And you don't want to miss this, the actor playing the bag of sugar. He'll be in all GOLD. And he's SEXY as hell.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Well, I already dropped one of the "S" bombs...

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
A dear friend once said to me that artists, specifically theater makers, necessarily invent new structures. That's what we do. And these structures can then potentially be applied to, say, social, political spheres. And old Sant-Simon from way back in the 19th C. would agree with her: that being political means being individualistic, anarchistic. So then the artist, who is an individual, who is a visionary, who is of the AVANT-GARDE (perpetual revolution), who possesses the power to imagine the intellectual, then possesses the ability to imagine a better world, to express ideas and structures yet to be expressed. So yes. Theater, in it's invention of structure, its capacity to SUSTAIN change, has the possibilities within itself to affect, or rather, become social (societal?) change. And quoting Sant-Simone himself, "People who know how to construct society should lead society."