Interview: Sun Mee Chomet

theatrical2013-300x451Sun Mee Chomet is one of Minnesota’s most accomplished actors.  She has worked extensively, at the Guthrie (she played Antigone in the terrific Burial At Thebes, was featured in The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide), at Mu Performing Arts (WTF, Cowboy Vs. Samurai), at Penumbra (…for colored girls).  The prestigious Ten Thousand Things will feature Chomet in their upcoming (Sept 25-Nov 4) producton of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Chomet is an accomplished writer as well: her Asiamnesia played at Mu Performing Arts and her not-to-be-missed How To Be A Korean Woman (in which Chomet also performs) will have a short run at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio, Sept 19-22. caught up with Chomet recently at Quixotic Coffee in Highland Park.

HowWasTheShow: How did How To Be A Korean Woman develop?

Sun Mee Chomet: Originally the piece was part of a longer show, The Origin(s) Project, that I did in collaboration with Katie Hae Leo.  We both performed one woman theater pieces about birth mother searches.  Katie and I are both Korean adoptees and we both felt, and feel, a strong need to connect to that part of our identity.  I was raised by a loving adoptive family in Michigan; still the need is there.

How To Be A Korean Woman details my experiences: appearing on the Korean TV show I Miss That Person, my first wrenching encounter with my birth family – my aunt, my blood relatives.

HWTS: It’s an amazing piece.

SMC: After a short sold out but brief run at Dreamland Arts, a tiny tiny theater in St. Paul, we raised ten thousand dollars through Kick-Starter and remounted the show.  Again it was a sellout – and this time we put money aside to pay ourselves.

At the Guthrie show [in the Dowling space] I’m going to put kiosks in the lobby which will connect to a blog.  Play-goers will be able to recount their own experieces and these will be projected on monitors.

HWTS: You recently did the play in Korea, yes?

SMC: Yes, I just got back.  I performed it at the International Korean Adoptees Association conference.

The audience consisted of the growing sub-culture of Korean adoptees.  From all over the world.  Some were visiting Korea for the first time, some have made multiple visits and some have settled permanently in the country.  Many are working to change the Korean attitude toward adoptees.

HWTS: What’s Korea like for you?

SMC: Amazing.  It’s so deeply satisfying to see yourself reflected in everything.  The culture speaks to me.  What would it have been like to be raised there?  What kind of person would I be?  I’m going back: I’m planning a trip to North Korea as part of a peace delegation.

And I’m learning the language.  There’s a emotional layer of frustration: I feel like I should speak it.  It’s a difficult language but my connection to the culture keeps me at it.

The technicians in Seoul for How To Be A Korean Woman didn’t speak English and of course there’s no Korean-language script.  They asked me to snap my fingers every time there was a light cue.  I ended up just putting out my hand.

HWTS: Tell me about your Playwrights Center fellowship.

SMC: It’s a Playwrights Center McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship.  2013-2014.  It’s not project-oriented, it’s simply a recognition of accomplishment.  There is extra money available, to stage a reading, take a class.  I may choose to work with a choreographer, I have’t decided yet.  It’s a great honor.

How To Be A Korean Woman plays at the Guthrie  September 19-24.

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