It has the following instructions:
1. Read: Article: Lee, Chapter 4, “Diversification of Asian American Theatre
2.Read: Play: Ping Chong and Company, The Inside/Out… Voices from the Disability Community 3.Watch: Performance clips: Inside/Out… Voices from the Disability Community https://vimeo.com/71345633
4. Read: Article: Chong, Undesirable Elements: “Interview” and “Methodology” 5. Read: Website: Ping Chong and Company, “Featured Projects: Undesirable Elements” https://www.pingchong.org/featured/undesirable-elements
6. Comment on 3 postings by classmates: What are some ideas discussed by the classmates that you find interesting or important?
The comments are expected to be succinct, from a few sentences to one short paragraph. In terms of length your posting, about 4-6 sentences in each paragraph, that is, for each of your comments to each of your classmates. Also, support what you say with passages or paraphrases, etc. I’m going to send you 5 postings of my classmates with some examples of comments but just as examples not copy them please. Then choose 3 posting of my classmates based what is more important and interesting follow the instructions please to comment.
Inside/Out… Voices from the Disability Community, and the Undesirable Elements series by Ping Chong and Company really stand out when compared to other plays due to it’s strong use of individual story-telling pieces that are organized in chronological order. I believe that Ping Chong’s extremely powerful and intriguing aspect of applying personal experiences from such a diverse group of individuals really prevents unfamiliarity and distance from the audience that suffers from a specific form of discrimination or self-identity conflicts. This can be quite different when comparing to fictional and self-identity problems that focus on mostly the cultural identity of being an Asian American as shown through many of the plays we have read. On the notes of use of language in the play, I noticed that in this specific production, the cast members introduce themselves in birth language but then reintroduce themselves in English towards the end. This small aspect and detail which I really like, already prove to me that Chong is trying to create a sense of alienation but then makes those feelings grow into familiarity after each member reveals their life story and self-identity. The sympathetic and moving elements make this a really meaningful play that makes myself as a reader/audience feel connected to the people on stage even if we all belonged to a different group that is marginalized in culture due to our skin color, sexual orientation. gender and birth of origin. In Chong’s undesirable elements interview and methodology, she states that there are two targeted audiences “Those who are only used to seeing people similar to themselves on stage, and those who almost never have the experience of seeing people similar to themselves on stage” but “when these two groups come together to experience undesirable elements, they form a community on that performance tonight, experiencing a common exchange with the performers and with each other”(Chong 208). As an individual who only experienced small conflicts with my Asian identity and not understanding the hardships of disabled individuals I was able to connect to the whole community that the stage has formed like Chong aimed to accomplish. What draws the line between her work and other plays is that she removes the barrier of focusing on a specific marginalized group and by shifting our attention to the overall “otherness” or “other” who feels excluded or different than the given norm in our society. This creates a sense of universality and generates empathy that empowers all individuals. The line “We all have mixed abilities. We aren’t the same but we aren’t that different either”(Chong 160) stated by Blair grasped my attention as it supports the sense of empathy and connection the play forms to the audience. As I read the play, I found myself noticing that the play itself includes personal stories that center on the diverse marginalized groups and personal experiences but concludes towards the end with individuals delineating from”I am determined to make it as an actor” to “I am still trying to let my mother go “(Chong 158). This to me portrays how the majority of these cast members still continue to reflect and strive for different goals despite their feelings of being the “other”. I found it so significant and powerful of Chong’s response when she was asked how Undesirable Elements created an impact; where she answered that the power of it is “It’s real people up there”, people who told the whole audience their life and stories that I believe has the potential to change peoples perception and their “consciousness” (Chong 170).
To begin with, one of the plays’ distinguishing features is that they target a wide range of demographics. The stories that they share with the community, and that the stories are real and personal.A distinguishing feature is that the performers are clapping in a rhythmic pattern, which is included in the entire production due to the change in subject. The groups performing come from various backgrounds and share characteristics that are unique to them. Undesirable Elements, as Ping Chong describes it, is a “seated opera for the spoken word.” It’s because once a performer enters the space, they don’t leave until the show is over. The theme of identity appears to be recurring. What I found unique about Inside Out was that each character introduce something special about them at the end of their lines. For example, on pg. 118 ‘ “Hello, my name is Monique. My birth date and place are unknown.’ They also introduce and explain the characteristics of various syndromes which I didn’t know much about it. Moreover, on pg. 126 ‘ we are the only Asian students at our school. The hearing kids make fun of us they make their eyes slanty and do karate moves when we walk by.’ This represents how these children are portrayed in their communities as being different from the others; they are deaf, but people still make fun of them; it is a form of discrimination against them.
Hello Savina, I totally agree with you that a very distinguished and unique feature of this play is the unison clapping from time to time.I believe the unison can link to the feelings of connection between the different individuals and their marginalized groups, putting away their differences. The strong themes of identity does recur like you stated and I believe plays a crucial role in portraying the cast members personal experiences and stories. -Sally
The Undesirable Elements series is what I would call egoless theater. Since each new production has its own unique text, generated from interviews with the performers, it upends the model of the playwright’s sacred text memorized by actor-puppets saying his words. Ping Chong notes that over time, his role has been to cede control and step back from the process: “If you look at the first scriipt, my hand is on it more than the individuals’ hands. Because I didn’t know what it was yet. As time goes by, I find my role to be more about giving voice to others whose voices are not heard in our community” (169). At this point, he’s made it possible to erase himself from the process entirely: according to the website, “a training model was created so that other people, artists and non-artists alike, can bring its pedagogy to their communities.” The structure (described as sonnet-like) can be replicated and tailored to the needs of any community. And yet his influence–the intention, the form, the process–pervades everything. He wants to spread the model not to get rich or become more famous, but to enable more people to have this communal bonding experience. So much of this work feels radical to me. The interview at the beginning of every production process requires that the writers start the project with an inquiry instead of a declaration. They don’t begin knowing what they want to say; they intend to find out what’s on people’s minds. While Wakako Yamauchi wrote plays based on true stories, the stories in Undesired Elements are the actual stories. There are no actors, no characters, just real people talking about their own lives, which has a specific testimonial power that even the best actor can never achieve. The vulnerability of the story-telling is more inviting than the anger and aggression of Frank Chin’s work. And unlike the Asian American groups fighting to be recognized in the industry, this production is unconcerned with the trappings of mainstream success. Rather, the people involved recount their biggest successes when individual audience members expressed that they were somehow changed by what they saw. Comment:
Hi Jamie, I agree with you that this play was particularly inviting, especially compared to Frank Chin’s piece, because of the candid vulnerability of the performers. When someone bravely allows me to be privy to their personal experiences without much, if any, abstraction to create emotional distance from me or even for themselves, I feel deeply honored. That feeling of trust and intimacy is priceless. It’s amazing to see that Ping Chong and company have managed to create this experience time and time again in such a “egoless” way as you put it. – Mei
Inside/Out… Voices from the Disability Community, is different from everything else we read because of the context and the structure of the play. The connection to Asian American heritage is Ping Chong, he seems to be focused on the theme of “other” when it comes to marginalized groups… all marginalized groups. I really enjoyed reading this play and learning about the difficulties and hardships from the other “other.” Even though I am not disabled, I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that has impacted my thoughts and feelings on living with this condition for the rest of my life and having to take medication every day and regularly going to see my rheumatologist. I can understand and relate to a degree. Autoimmune condition aside, it is not a condition that other people can see about me or even guess BUT other people can see my skin tone and my eyes and my hair. Living with physical attributes that easily sets you apart from the rest of society is a struggle, it makes you feel like a large sometimes and at the same time, it helps you build thick skin and a strong sense perseverance. Of course, being Chinese American is not the same as being disable. It just conjures up similar themes behind wanting to be accepted and just looked at as “normal,” whatever that may mean in 2021. As I learned from the interview, Chong centralized the structure of his play around community which is very different from the traditional/standard types of plays we have been reading thus far. I find this to be very unique and quite enjoyable, the teamwork aspect behind the cast and the manner in which they are selected. Being the actors in each others story and helping each other express that vulnerable side is a powerful moment. I agree that this type of collaboration really fortifies the connections between the performers and that will ultimately translate into a strong impact with the audience. Comment:
Hello Sam, thank you for sharing your own personal experiences and the struggles you faced being part of the “other”. I also in fact learned a lot from this play as of how individuals from such different marginalized groups felt as they endure through discrimination or hardships that was due to their differences. You bring up multiple great points on how the society’s perception of an individual changes when you can not meet to the standard norms. The strong teamwork between the cast members did pose a empowering moment for all individuals even to the audience. -Sally
Inside/Out is definitely an outlier in terms of the plays we read. In terms of structure alone, it’s really interesting. I love the first person storytelling and how the personal stories of the characters intersects with the timeline of political progress for people with disabilities. I especially love the way every story is told chronologically by year. It really shows how people will still greatly struggle even when progress is made in politics. The juxtaposition of Christopher talking about Gerri Jewell on The Facts of Life on page 130, shortly followed on page 131 by the story of the doctors telling his mother to let him die is a great example of this. Even three years after a major step forward for the visibility of people with cerebral palsy is made, the doctors still suggest there isn’t any hope for him. Of course, the play doesn’t fully disregard the importance of these events. They play a huge part in making life easier for everyone with disabilities. They inspire people. They bring more visibility and understanding to various disabilities. On page 134, when Monique talks about Jordan becoming the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, it truly is “a watershed moment for the deaf community” (Chong and Zatz 134). These events may not help every disabled person physically, but it helps inspire them and shows they can be more than people tell them they can be. This structure is a really interesting way to tell this story of activism and progress for disabled people. I really enjoyed it. Comment:
Hello Chris, I also really enjoy the chronological order that Chong utilizes to portray the story timelines. I feel like using this sequencing pattern to tell stories can bring out a lot of the political problems that was also occurring during those specific time periods/events. I really like how you compared the personal experiences that those cast member experiences to the political progression that they all suffered from. The structure of this play is indeed very unique and delineates the potential activism that can inspire more people to bring these issues to life. -Sally
It has the following instructions: 1. Read: Article: Lee, Chapter 4, “Diversific
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