First entry in a looooooooong time. Over a year based off the “Standstill” post below. I’ve mainly been working in theater lately. Doing readings for various theater companies in the area and doing a full production of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Yes! The book you had to read in high school Ray Bradbury. He adapted his book into a play after having watched the movie adaptation where he decided, “I like this part better than what I originally wrote. Now it’s in the play I WROTE.” Had a lot of fun on that one. Quantum Dragon Theatre is one of the few theater companies in AMERICA that does only fantasy and science fiction based plays. Super great crew of people.
Right now, I have been working with one of the biggest regional theaters in the Nation, Berkeley Repertory Theatre. This past Tony Awards, they sent Ain’t Too Proud to Broadway where is received 11 nominations. So yes, where talking big deal here.
I have been fortunate to be cast as an undersudy for their current production of The Great Wave by Francis Turnly. It follows a Japanese family of a mother, Etsuko, and two daughters, Reiko and Hanako, in which one of the daughters goes missing. Beginning in 1979, the events transpire over 20 plus years in a slow burn thriller to find the answers to her disappearance. I’m understudying as the sisters’ childhood friend, Tetsuo, who begins the story as the prime suspect.
The experience working with theater creators of such a high caliber has been an education in how to act. The director, Mark Wing Davey, dropped little bits of wisdom in the rehearsal room every day, and the actors were putting on masterclasses of how understanding and mastery of an actor’s instrument (the body) can allow for the work in the rehearsal space to be one of creation rather than education.
This production also marks the first time I’ve ever been cast in an Asian specific role. Every other casting has been either racially non-specific, ethnically ambiguous, or Asian added simply for diversity. It marks a point in my career that I am immensely grateful for, knowing full well it may be quite sometime before it happens again. So I am taking nothing for granted in this experience. I showed up for as many rehearsals as I could, watched (and will continue to watch) the show many, many times. Learned my lines way in advance. If I ever have the chance to go on, I want to do this character, this play, the actor I am understudying for, the Asian American community, and myself proud. Knowing that the amount of work and effort I have put into this project is my new bar, I intend to maintain it with future productions.
Invigorated and ready to keep my art and business alive and thriving.
Keep Hustling and Stay Goofy,
James Aaron Oh