Helen Young in Caught
Helen acts in Christopher Chen's Caught, directed by Seth Bockley for Sideshow Theatre. Caught opens May 29, 2016 and runs through Jul 3, 2016.
WHAT'S YOUR PERSONAL STORY?
I grew up in Chicago and its suburbs and have chosen Chicago as my home. My family and community is here. I was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to the US when I was 1 year old. I was an exchange student while in college in Hong Kong and have some great friends whom I visit regularly there. I love love love to travel. I majored in English Literature at university. Then, I went back to school to get training in computer science as I decided an LAS degree was not going to support the things I want to do, like pursue the arts and travel - a lot. I have worked in the Tech sector for my day job and find that it's a great balance between that and my pursuits as an artist. At times it is very challenging from a timing perspective. I have to time slice very often and some times have to make tough choices with my time. I started taking acting classes in 2005. Then, I stopped acting for a couple of years while my father was sick in 2006. I got back into theatre in 2008 and have been studying the craft steadily since. In the last couple of years, I've come to the conclusion that to really affect change for diversity on stage I need to move beyond the powerless position of actor. So, I recently started to learn about directing. I love it. (I need to add that it all started with Mia Park inviting me to direct her in her 6 minute piece about a story from her Korean family history. I will always be grateful to her for that.) There is so much satisfaction I get directing/collaborating with other artists to shape stories that provide, hopefully, a fulfulling experience for the audience --fulfilling because the time we shared challenges a preconception or illumines a thread of life that my not have been contemplated before. I absolutely love that about the power of stories. And the theatrical story-telling experience is unlike other story-telling forms. There is a physical exchange of energy between the work and the audience. That excites me. Of course, I do not intend to stop acting. I think that as a woman, it is important to be multi-disciplined in a chosen focus.
WHAT'S YOUR CHARACTER STORY IN "CAUGHT"?
In scene 3, I am Wang Min, an artist from Hong Kong, China (origin was a back story we created during rehearsal). She wrote scenes 1 and 2 and is now being interviewed (scene 3) about the work we just saw in scenes 1 and 2. She is very confident in her world view that takes a lot from Buddhism. In fact, much of her line of reasoning is anti-duality. She is very eager to share a view of the world that can hold multiple views in balance. She challenges a world view that is only about right or wrong. She finds that prevents us from seeing the bigger picture because we get so obsessed by the right/wrong of details that we end up in rabbit holes and lose the bigger picture of the actual human experience. In scene 4, Wang Min is an actor /writer (from San Franciso, backstory created in rehearsal) who loves her co-collaborator Lin. They have a very comfortable collaborative and combative relationship. But, they need each other. They have gone through a lot together and arguing about who has the upper hand in point of view should not be the point. They are in the here and now and that is what should matter.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES YOUR CHARACTER FACE TELLING THIS STORY?
I will only touch on Scene 3 for this. As an artist with an Eastern world view, it is very challenging to share that view in the manner a typical priest may challenge her disciples without a western audience seeing this challenge as being arrogant and "toying with" the "disciple." But, in some of my research on monk/disciple relationships and even as I consider Chinese culture, this is a model that has occurred over and over (if you've every seen a classic Chinese kung fu movie you know exactly what I'm talking about). A teacher seemingly antagonizes a pupil in order to help the people leap to the next level of understanding. The end goal is truly to push the pupil to move past wrong architectures in order to rebuild from another point of view. I think that model/archetype is challenging to get across as it is very difficult for a western audience. It is very normal to see the teacher's tactics as abusive or manipulative. Now, that is not to say the teacher doesn't enjoy the manipulation. We all get a rush from power, regardless of where we were born :) But, in the end it is not power for power's sake. The end goal is a new beginning :)
HOW DOES YOUR CHARACTER OVERCOME THOSE CHALLENGES?
For Wang, when she sees that the curator is finally letting go and finally seeking from a place of uncertainty, she is truly joyful and excited to share the secret of the box...and journey and the freedom of nothing to hold on to!
ANY LAST COMMENTS?
Thank you for supporting theatre that seeks to share in diversity. That means a ton to me. And so much gratefulness to Side Show for this season of diversity in theatre.