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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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Poetry On The Odyssey: It's a Girl

An ode to the little girl raised to be insecure.

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They raise little girls to be insecure

Little girls grow to be big girls

People always ask big girls why they're so insecure

Big girls aren't quite sure

Day after day the big girl can't keep up

She's exhausted

Her soul feels worn

The big girl learns to grow hard

In a way, she's a bit stronger

People call her a bitch

Bitch

What is that?

How can she let that affect her

It's simply the only way to be her

She mourns that little girl

Hoping that one day

She'll be strong


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