among the dead

HANSOL JUNG

MA-YI THEATER COMPANY 2016

Directed by Ralph Peña

Set Design: Reid Thompson

Costume Design: Becky Bodurtha

Lighting Design: Oliver Wason

Sound Design: Ken Goodwin

Photographs: Hunter Canning

With: Diana Oh, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Mickey Theis, Will Dagger

Among The Dead is hard to describe. I think playwright Hansol Jung's description of the play for our world premiere production with Ma-Yi does a good job: "Ana is a Korean American who travels to Seoul in 1975 to retrieve her recently deceased father’s ashes. Luke is a young American soldier fighting in the jungles of Myanmar in 1944. Number Four is the name of a Korean comfort woman camping out on a bridge in Seoul in 1950, waiting for the return of the young American soldier who fathered her daughter. Three separate time periods collide in a small hotel room in Korea, mediated by a shape-shifting Jesus who first shows up as a bellboy. Among the Dead is a dark comedy about a family broken apart by betrayed promises, and finding each other through SPAM, journals, and Jesus. Mostly Jesus."

The biggest design challenge of this production was imagining a way to support three times and places existing simultaneously in the intimate space of HERE Art Center. The set had three spaces - a downstage "dream jungle" space, defined by jungle foliage and stumps; which was entirely black. The central space was the hotel room and its hallway, which jutted into the jungle space at an angle. It was fairly real feeling and was designed around research of Seoul in the 1970's. The final space was an upstage "bridge" which became visible through the scrim wallpaper of the hotel room. The set was packed with tricks and surprises - Luke enters though a hidden trapdoor in the pillows of the bed, actors crawled into the jungle from under the hotel room set, Jesus appeared and dissapeared through the wardrobe closet, etc etc.