Inspiring "Chang(e)"

Inspiring "Chang(e)"

Soomi Kim and Suzi Takahashi revive the voice of Kathy Change in their devised docudrama at HERE Arts Center.
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In a 1996 address to students at the University of Pennsylvania, Kathy Change wrote: “I want to free my spirit so that it can jump inside of you.” In their devised play “Chang(e),” artistic collaborators Soomi Kim and Suzi Takahashi attempt to bring back Kathy’s voice in order to explore her idea of truth and what that may inspire today. Born Kathleen Chang, the late radical activist and performance artist fearlessly advocated for world peace and against the government. She situated herself on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania for years, calling out to students whom she believed to be the next generation of leaders to initiate revolution.

The audience entered the world of Kathy Change through blue streamers. From the ceiling of the small blackbox theatre hung an eclectic collection of lights, strings, disco balls, and paper lanterns. The stage, just slightly below the risers that surrounded it, was marked by an enormous black peace sign. Using elements of music, dance, film in combination with traditional elements of documentary theater such as interviews with and writings of Change, a cast of seven actors guided an audience through her life and her mind in a piece that was part docudrama and part dream reality.

The show did not attempt to create a biography of Change. The majority of the play’s characters were fictionalized, and the “real events” slipped into imagined dream sequences. It was an appropriate method with which to portray Kathy’s life, given that her own goals stemmed from real world problems but looked toward utopian solutions.

The show's greatest successes were the questions that it generated. Though no single event stands out as the conflict, Kathy’s struggle is her fight to be heard. We see Kathy being passed by in the rain, mocked by students, shunned by other artists, and rejected by publications. The fact of her audience’s neglect leading up to her 1996 self-immolation raises questions of the aims and achievements of radical activists. If no one is listening, what are they accomplishing and how do they persist?

It’s all too easy to dismiss the words of radicals, to call them crazy, to ignore their cries. Perhaps it’s true that their ideas aren’t practical, perhaps they are at times hard to understand. But if radical approaches are not the answer, neither are passive alternatives. Is there a single point on the spectrum, an exact formula, or a correct way to be an activist?

As the rising generation, we all like to call ourselves activists, searching for our places in various movements somewhere between hashtags and peaceful protests. We know that we want change and are quick to identify problems and condemn them. Sometimes we even propose solutions, but this is the hard part. Listening to Soomi Kim recite Kathy’s speeches on stage, I could feel her passion and understand her frustrations with the world. But the thought kept running through my mind: What exactly is it that she wants? It’s harder to picture the future than look at the present, it’s difficult to mark progress when the goal is out of sight.

“Chang(e)” concluded its run at HERE Arts Center on Nov. 22nd, having revived the voice of an artist and provoked the audience to reconsider their relationships to reform.

Cover Image Credit: HERE Arts Center

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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