NEW YORK CITY |  Kyoung H. Park’s new play-in-progress Tala is a meta-theatrical play that merges this playwright’s autobiography with the story of Pepe and Lupe, two lovers caught on the Chilean island of Chiloé.  The play takes place the night before Pinochet‘s military coup on September 11th, 1973.

Poster for Kyoung H. Park's new play-in-progress "Tala"
Poster for Kyoung H. Park’s new play-in-progress Tala

Tala will perform in a workshop production July 28th to 31st at HERE Arts Center (145 Sixth Avenue in downtown SoHo) in New York City.  The play, a work-in-progress, is a critique on the nature of political revolutions.

The script collages satirical sketches based on Samuel Beckett’s works, letters and poems written by Chilean poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, and autobiographical monologues about his experience being a Korean-Chilean immigrant.  Appropriately enough, this sampling from the production’s notebooks collages play excerpts, photos, early sketches, models and computer renderings.

Park has asked me to moderate an artist talkback after a 2PM matinee performance of Tala on July 29th.  Join me, TALA’s creative team and the members of the Pacific Beat Collective (PBC).  Our discussion will explore and investigate what it takes to create an interdisciplinary company such as PBC and how this company’s mission intersects with political theater, artistic collaboration and the theme of ideological revolutions.  Our conversation will be followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Tickets for TALA’s matinee on the 29th, and the entire run, can be purchased online here: http://www.here.org/shows/detail/990/

Tala marks the debut of a new interdisciplinary company Pacific Beat Collective.  Founded with Amanda J. Crater and Keren Toledano, PBC is a multi-cultural collective of artists creating interdisciplinary works of original theater that explore our world’s interconnectedness.  For more information about the panel/workshop, people can reach Amanda J. Crater, Producer, at amanda@pacificbeatcollective.org.

DRAMATURGICAL NOTES:
Poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral are the source of inspiration for Pepe and Lupe. Gabriela Mistral, Latin America’s first Nobel Laureate, mentored Neruda as a young poet, and they kept a life-long relationship through written correspondence. Throughout their careers, both Neruda and Mistral served as Chilean diplomats, and they traveled worldwide to take part in local and international politics.

Gabriela Mistral, who is rumored to be a closeted lesbian, spent her last years in New York after spending much of her life in self-exile, working as an educator in Mexico. On the other hand, Neruda’s poetry and politics garnered him a nomination to Chile’s presidency through the Chilean communist party. Neruda offered his nomination to Salvador Allende, which lead to the first democratic election of a Marxist president.

Kyoung H. Park, author of the play "Tala"
Kyoung H. Park, author of the play Tala

Twelve days after Pinochet’s military coup, and Allende’s assassination, Pablo Neruda died. While there are conspiracy theories as to whether Neruda was murdered by Pinochet’s regime, the popular story is that Neruda died of a broken heart.

During Pinochet’s regime, Mistral’s image was co-opted and made into a motherly heroine of the Chilean people; in fact, Mistral was put on the 5,000 peso note, even though Mistral received very little recognition in Chile while she was alive.

Meanwhile, Neruda’s houses in Santiago and Valparaiso were ransacked by the police and Pinochet smeared Neruda for his Communist beliefs.

Park says: “In Tala, which is titled after Mistral’s second book of poems, I’m giving these two Chilean poets another chance to be together, and adapted their poems and letters to capture the turbulent times they experienced.”

Mabou Mines workshop pf Kyoung H. Park's play "Tala" in April 2012 | Photo by Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Pacific Beat Collective workshop of Kyoung H. Park’s play “TALA” (ToRoNaDa Theater, April 2012) | Photo by Paul Mpagi Sepuya

PLAYWRIGHT’S EARLY SKETCH

Playwright Kyoung H. Park's sketch for his own play "Tala" | Courtesy of playwright
Playwright Kyoung H. Park’s sketch for his own play “Tala” | Courtesy of playwright

DESIGNERS’ NOTEBOOK
Tala was written and directed by Kyoung H. Park, developed under the mentorship of Lee Breuer, and produced in association with Pacific Beat Collective. The choreography was by Yin Yue, original composition by Svetlana Maras, installation art by Jason Krugman, video design by John Knowles, set design by Marie Yokoyama, lighting design by Chuan-Chi Chan, sound design by Chris Barlow, costume design by Elizabeth Groth; the stage manager was Ashley Rossetti and the producer was Amanda J. Crater.

Rendering of set design for Kyoung H. Park"Tala" at HERE Arts Center, July 2012. Set Designer: Marie Yokoyama | Courtesy of the playwright
Computer rendering of set design for Kyoung H. Park’s Tala at HERE Arts Center, July 2012. Set Designer: Marie Yokoyama | Courtesy of the playwright
Kyoung Park's "Tala," Act I, Top. Preliminary Set Design, Mabou Mines Workshop, April 2012. Set Designer: Marie Yokoyama
Kyoung Park’s  Tala, Act I, Top. Preliminary Set Design (April 2012, ToRoNaDa Theater) Set Designer: Marie Yokoyama | Photo courtesy of the playwright

PLAY EXCERPT

TIME AND PLACE

A rehearsal room for “TALA,”
a play set in a desert
in the middle of a Chilean island called
Chiloé

Now.
In “TALA,” Sept. 10th, 1973.

At rise: A rehearsal room for “Tala,” a play set in the middle of a desert in a Chilean island called Chiloé.

LUPE:     I think Salmita’s new movie is romantic!
I read in People In Español that
the movie is great.

PEPE:      Her movies are a fantasy!

LUPE:    But they’re fun!
I don’t want to spend
my time dealing with
peuchéns, or the
black-hole of your experience,
I want to be entertained.

Whenever I watch Salmita
on the big screen,
I project myself living glamorously,
out there in the world.

PEPE:   Why do you want to go out there,
when people from abroad
travel to see what we’ve got here?

LUPE:  What’s so wonderful about this?

(Svetlana Maras’ “Pepe and Lupe Song” plays as Pepe produces a “magic box” from
Lupe’s ears.

Pepe dances a modern version of “El Pavo,” or “The Turkey,” a traditional Chiloé
dance based on the mating of turkeys. The dance is built primarily on a theme of
flickering fingers.)

PEPE:   (while dancing.)
Out there, there’s sadness,
a beetle of seven legs;
a headless vermin
covered in spider-webs that
here, it can’t nest.
Our Sister Liberty is
safe from sadness’ feathers
because here,
we live with freedom’s magic,
here, anything can happen—

(Pepe gives Lupe the “magic box.” The music stops as Lupe considers it. Pepe takes
the “box” back and starts to shimmy as the music returns. Lupe takes the “box” from
Pepe and destroys it.)

LUPE:    You know what’s going to happen?
Those mountains will be flattened and
become condominiums.
The river bank: a heated swimming pool.
That’s what’s going to happen, and
there’s a certain magic to that, as well!

PEPE:    We can’t stand here and
watch them come destroy us.
(to the audience.)
Look out into that Erebus.
I can see them.

LUPE:   (to the audience.)  The mummies?

PEPE:    (to the audience.)
The Gallos Culebrón:
they’re waiting for us
to let our guards down,
so they can salivate poison
into our mouths.

LUPE:  (whispering upset.)  Don’t provoke them!
Why are you such an instigator?

PEPE:   (to the audience.)
‘Cause I’m angry!
Don’t you get angry about this, Lupe?
Whenever they come from
the mainland with their
bulldozers and cranes,
they wave a little bit of money
in front of us and
do whatever they want!

LUPE:   Gigi says
they’re just building infrastructure so
we can make better use of the land.

PEPE:   (to the audience.)
But don’t you think this is enough?
You and me,
this desert and
the moonlight?

LUPE:   This date is going awful.

PEPE:   (back to Lupe.) This is not a date!
Lupe…
the last time we tried this—

LUPE:   The last time was your fault!
What were you thinking, Pepe:
bombs?
bombs?!
Like you’re a bandit,
or a guerilla—?!

PEPE:   I’m a revolutionary!

LUPE:  You went up to the bridge and
blew it up with dynamite!

PEPE:   That bridge was colonialism
hidden in design!
While the mummies spent that money
building that bridge,
look at what our brothers have done.
When have you seen a government
redistribute land, or
provide remote places like this,
with substantial food,
at reasonable prices, so
the hungry can eat?

(Lupe makes farting noises with her mouth and lies on the sand. Pepe retrieves a
New York subway map from his back-pack and shows it to Lupe.)

PEPE:    If you had more skills
in the art of revolution,
I could explain to you our
strategic plans to liberation!
Our brothers and I have
a dream that unites all of Latin America,
the way Che sought to unite us,
the way Castro fought for independence—

LUPE:   I know that dream, Pepe.
But just look around us:
the revolution you speak about
can’t come true.
These are no longer
the times of Bolivar,
we cannot follow Bolivar’s
Decree of War to Death.
Pepe…
there’s a big,
fat,
commie girl inside me.
I never let her eat.

PEPE:   Empanada?

(Pepe gives Lupe an empanada. She refuses it.
Pepe rolls the empanada—or Styrofoam egg—on Lupe’s chest, and spins it on her
index finger, persuading her to eat.)

Mabou Mines workshop pf Kyoung H. Park's play "Tala" in April 2012 | Photo by Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Pacific Beat Collective workshop of Kyoung H. Park’s play Tala (ToRoNaDa Theater, April 2012) | Photo by Paul Mpagi Sepuya


PRODUCTION HISTORY:

Tala was written with support of a Vermont Studio Center Artist grant and received a public reading at the Ma-Yi Theater’s Summer LABFest (July 9, 2011), a roundtable reading at the Lark Play Development Center (Nov. 9, 2011) and was workshopped by Pacific Beat Collective at the  ToRoNaDa Theater (Dec. 19, 2011). TALA received a workshop production in Columbia University’s New Plays Now 2012 Festival at the ToRoNada Theater on Apr. 8, 9, and 10, 2012.

Tala will perform in a workshop production July 28th to 31st at HERE Arts Center (145 Sixth Avenue in downtown SoHo) in New York City.  The play, a work-in-progress, is produced under the auspices of Pacific Beat Collective.

Developmental workshop at Mabou Mines of Kyoung H. Park's "Tala" in December 2011 | Courtesy of the playwright
Developmental workshop at ToRoNaDa Theater of Kyoung H. Park’s “Tala” in December 2011 | Courtesy of the playwright
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One thought on “Currently in production | Play excerpt, models, design sketches for Pacific Beat Collective’s “Tala” at HERE Arts Center, July 28 to 31

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