Kyoung Update: Lakota Territory, Chicago, Philadelphia, Honolulu (Hawaii), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Montauk, San Antonio & Dallas (Texas), Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York


It has been 18 months since the last Kyoung Update. Where have I been?

Since 2018, I’ve participated in the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI) and Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Leadership Fellowship programs, learning more about the work of arts and culture bearers of color working with indigenous communities across the country, while developing deeper strategic thinking and planning skills to support the work of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat. Through these programs, I have been generously invited to travel to Lakota Territory, Honolulu, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and my own research projects have taken me to Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Montauk, and San Pedro de Atacama.

Theses travels have catalyzed a period of deep reflection and change, asking me to re-think my relationship to my motherland (Korea), my birth country (Chile), and the lands I now occupy in New York City. In the midst of these thoughts, I find myself disrupting my own ways of working to grow past my current limitations as an individual artist and theater company, to reconsider what it means for me to be an artist of color doing work in my community.

Following the premiere and tour of our company’s latest work, PILLOWTALK, I’ve also confronted the real difficulties of managing success while healing trauma. My work, fully committed to transforming personal and communal experiences of oppression into peace messages made public through performance, has been both welcomed by our audiences but severely underfunded in the field. In the midst of multiple fellowship programs since 2015, the main question I’ve been asked is: when are you going to get the funding you need? As evidenced in my reflections for ILI, I am fully aware that we have reached our limitations and something must truly change.

Kyoung’s Research Now Available via Americans for the Arts

In 2020, my current state of trauma is not unique to my personal experience, but a reflection of our current times. Under the rule of a white supremacist Presidency, it is not enough to confront the pain of living under a narcissistic, abusive government, but it is necessary to look at the deeper causes of trauma and disease – racism being the primary cause for illness in the Western world, according to Rupa Marya, MD

As an artist, what can I do to change white supremacist culture? This was the question I posed to the performing arts field as the culmination of my Action Learning Project as a 2018-2020 APAP Leadership Fellow, through a panel called “How Artists and Presenter Do Anti-Oppression Work,” featuring guest speakers Betsy Theobald Richards, Beatrice L. Thomas, Joe Tolbert Jr., and myself, in a conversation facilitated by Daniel Lim.

The framework and outcomes of this session are documented in a two-part blog post (Part 1 and Part 2) for Americans for the Arts.

Call for Seneca, Lenape, Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Mauntakett, Aymara and Quechua Artists

The dismantling of white supremacy culture as performance is the question fueling the research and development process of NERO. Last Spring, I went deep into the George W. Bush Presidential Archives in Dallas, Texas, to re-connect with the history and legacy of the Republican Party and ongoing War on Terror. I’m currently integrating my research into my work through the support of a 2019-2020 Dramatist Guild Fellowship and look forward to starting its staging later this year.

We are currently seeking men / women / gender non-conforming performers that are Seneca, Lenape, Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, or Mauntakett and visual / video artists who are Aymara or Quechua to join us in the creation of NERO. Click here to see our call for artists and email us to join us at Kyoung’s Pacific Beat!

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat will become a 501c3 Not-for-Profit Organization

We are grateful to once again receive support from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA/ART-NY Creative Opportunity Fund) to form our company’s first Board of Directors and incorporate as a not for profit organization in New York.During this transition period, we will also activate a ten-year strategic plan in alignment with our organization values, challenging typical white-supremacist working models of traditional nonprofits. Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s strategic plan was developed with support from both my ILI and APAP Fellowship trainings.

In order to support the sustainability of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat, I researched alternative business structures as part of my 2018-2019 ILI Fellowship, with the hope of transforming Kyoung’s Pacific Beat into a mission driven social enterprise. However, due to the legal restrictions in New York in the formation of hybrid for profits/non profits, and by learning that for-profit work is not in complete alignment with my personal values, I have decided to pursue the incorporation of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat as a not for profit organization.

We would like to thank Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s Leadership Council, Sooyoung Hwang, Daniel K. Isaac, Daniel Lim, Laurence Pagnoni, Diane Ragsdale, Keryn Redstone, Jason Tseng, Tiffany Vega, and two anonymous Leadership Council members for your service. They’ve been our much needed advisors and counselors in the formation and sustainability of the company. Our Leadership Council will dissolve this June, at the end of our season, and our official Board Members will be announced later this year!

Announcing pre-development of PILLOWTALK – a TV pilot – and national tour

What happened to PILLOWTALK? Kyoung’s Pacific Beat had a successful tour to the Consortium of Asian-American Theaters and Artists CAATA’s “Radical Acts” Festival in Victory Gardens, Chicago. You can read our Chicago reviews here and learn more about our community-based long-table, “Feminist Perspectives on Building Intersectional Communities,” documented by Tanuja Jagernauth here.

After our return from Chicago, we held on touring as we were invited to develop a TV pilot based on the characters of Sam and Buck. Currently in development, we have connected with talented queer actors and filmmakers of color, finding a renewed sense of joy not just in the expanded retelling of these character’s stories, but in our exploration of expression in a completely different medium.

As one of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s core axis is to Queer the Social Order, we also look forward to re-engaging with theaters and presenters who have requested the show in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC and London. If you’d like to learn more about PILLOWTALK, please contact us for a password to access our PRESENTERS page.

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat is a peacemaking theater company whose mission is to work with artists, non-artists, and local communities to transform personal and communal experiences of oppression into peace messages made public through performance. Please consider supporting our work by making a tax-deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas. Thank you!

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