How to Be a Korean Woman

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Posted on August 26, 2013


MINNEAPOLIS — Local actor and playwright Sun Mee Chomet will present her one-woman show “How to Be a Korean Woman” at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio for four performances from September 19-22, 2013.


“How to Be a Korean Woman” uses text, music and movement to tell the story one adoptee’s reunion with her birth family and what happens afterward. It is described as “a hilarious, heartfelt and personal telling of a Korean-American adoptee’s search for her birth family in Seoul, South Korea.


“I am tremendously excited to share what will be a world premiere of the show with the larger Twin Cities’ community at the Guthrie,” Chomet said. “There are new plot developments, original music composition, gorgeous new lights, costume, and set design elements. Its been quite a ride taking the show to this next level.”


Told from the perspective of an adult adoptee, Chomet explore themes of family, love, adulthood and the universal longing to know one’s past. The work is directed and dramaturged by Zaraawar Mistry, who worked with Chomet in two sold-out performances of the play in 2012, when she collaborated with fellow Korean adoptee and actor-playwright Katie Leo in The Origin(s) Project: Memoirs in Motion at Dreamland Arts in Saint Paul.


After locating her birth family in Korea, Chomet said her lifelong anxiety and fantasy of what the meeting would resolve was one of sudden expectations and culture boundaries. She finds herself negotiating life as both a Korean-American adoptee and now, as a Korean woman.


Chomet has written adult-adoptee works since college, but said this was something transformative and deeply intimate. This is the most difficult work she has yet written. Playwriting has helped her overcome confusion and understand how to merge her own identity with a new history she is learning about as an adult.


“As folks may (or may not know), Minnesota is home to the highest number of Korean adoptees in the world,” Chomet said. “There are over 11,000 living here currently. This means that everyone in Minnesota either is related to, partnered with, has worked with, or knows a Korean adoptee. So, in many ways this is your show, our show as a community.”


Chomet is well known to Guthrie audiences with roles in The Burial at Thebes, Macbeth, Tony Kushner’s world premiere: The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Naomi Iizuka’s world premiere: After 100 Years. She has performed in several Mu Performing Arts productions and her first Twin Cities role was the History Theater’s “100 Men’s Wife.”


As a playwright, Chomet’s first play, Asiamnesia, was voted Best New Script of 2008 by Minneapolis Star Tribune. It was published in the anthology: Asian American Plays for a New Generation.


Raised in the Detroit area, Chomet received her M.F.A. in Acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and her B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Earlham College. She is now a St. Paul-based actor, dancer and playwright.


The Saturday, September 21 performance will be paired with a screening of Filmmaker Jason Hoffmann’s documentary “Going Home.” In the face of adversity and complete upheaval of buried insecurities about his identity, Jason begins to discover a profound new meaning of family as he considers what his life may have been like if he had not been adopted. Together, the two pieces explore the search for one’s birth family through the unique angles of theater and film.


Tickets are $22 for Sun, Tue, Wed evenings and weekday matinees; $26 for Thu, Fri evenings; and $30 for Sat evening; Sat, Sun matinees.


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