GRAMMA by Maki Yi
at Pacific Theatre until February 1
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Sometimes I'm led to choose a particular show for a season because all of a sudden people start asking for it. "When are you going to do such-and-such again?" "Would you ever consider doing
Not that we've staged this particular play before. But a few years back we brought you Maki's winsome one-woman show Suitcase Stories and, maybe in the wake of Maki's lovely performance in Kim's Convenience last season, folks started asking about bringing her back. Which I was eager to do. Someone reminded me that Maki had another solo show that focuses on one small chapter of Suitcase Stories, the story of Maki's time in Regina living with a woman who was more than challenging. Living with Gramma. And here we are.
I love this play for the way it takes me not only to another place, another situation, but also into another way of being in the world, another way of experiencing events. It's a story of clashing cultures, of "foreignness" - of Maki finding herself a stranger in a stranger land, to be sure, but also a story where I find myself a foreigner, a stranger to the ways Maki perceives and lives through these events. The idea of filial duty, which informs not only Maki's relationship with this difficult elder, but also pervades the mythic Korean story Maki interweaves with the real world events unfolding in Saskatchewan. Perhaps the whole story is an illustration of the Korean idea of "Saumyonsoe jongdunda" - but I'll leave it to Maki's play to tell you, and show you, the reality of that phrase.
Of course, a one-person show is never the creation of one person. At the first reading of the script a few weeks back, I was so taken by the contribution of a whole team of designers and other creative contributors. For a while now I've been looking for a way to have Laura McLean in the director's chair at Pacific Theatre; I started following her work when she stage managed Godspell, so many years ago! I even think of the outside-the-theatre contribution Emily Cooper, who has designed our posters for nine seasons now; take a moment after the show and look closely at her wonderful image for this show, at all the details that encapsulate a delightful vision of Maki's highly individual story.
And if you want even more Maki, check out the upcoming Arts Club tour of our production of Kim's Convenience as it travels the Lower Mainland and beyond, to Kelowna, Cranbrook, Revelstoke, Nanaimo, Duncan. Maki's back!