Meet Caroline Chu

February 21, 2017
Stories

Caroline Chu is a local actress performing in the Chicago premiere of the play, PEERLESS by Jiehae Park. Directed by Hutch Pimentel and running until March 11, 2017, this blisteringly funny script is a riff on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In an ordinary Midwestern high school, twin sisters M and L are competitive with everyone - except each other. When the failsafe combination of perfect academics, killer extracurriculars, and calculated self-identification fails to impress The College’s early decision admissions board, they hatch a sinister Plan B to secure their future. PEERLESS is about the unbreakable bond between sisters whose vaulting ambition will not be deferred at any cost. Tickets and more info can be found on First Floor Theater's website.

What's your personal story?
I've lived in Chicago my whole life and grew up around art. My mother is, among other things, a great dancer and public speaker, and my father is, among other things, a photographer and a musician. It definitely rubbed off on me and my younger brothers - we're all making art of some kind. One is going into graphic design and the other is becoming an awesome musician. I grew up in a mixed household, too. My mom's side is white/European and my dad's side is Chinese and Filipino. I kind of fell into acting in fifth grade and kept performing at school, and finally decided to really pursue it when I applied to Northwestern. I'm there now working on a double major in Theater and English.

What's your character's story in "Peerless”?
The character arcs in this play pretty closely follow those in Macbeth, which the play is based on. L and her twin, M, have spent their entire lives working towards getting into the college of their dreams, and when reality (and the admissions process) throws a wrench into those carefully laid plans, they have to figure out how to get back on track. L really takes the reins and runs wild with them. The events of the play bring out a darkness in her.

‍Aurora Adachi-Winter and Caroline Chu in First Floor Theater’s Chicago premiere of PEERLESS by Jiehae Park, directed by Hutch Pimentel. Photo by Ian McLaren.

What challenges does your character face telling this story?
L's success is dependent on her sister's, so everything that affects M affects her, too. For the first time, the lengths the twins are willing to go to in order to secure their futures don't match up, and the uncertainty that causes pushes her into a downward spiral. She can't rely on the only other person in her corner.

How does the character overcome those challenges?
She forces her way through them. She is a force. She thinks fast - scary fast - and knows exactly what buttons to push on other people to get the outcome she wants.

‍PEERLESS - By Jiehae Park, directed by Hutch Pimentel

Any other comments?
For me, this play has been special for a number of reasons. This is really my first time out of the gate, and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this production. Everyone who worked on this show is utterly brilliant. 

The two main characters are strong women, strong Asian women, and that's a rare thing. Jiehae Park's writing is so sharp and witty. She has such a strong voice, and I think it's important, especially now, for the voice of a female Asian-American playwright to be heard.

It's a challenging show to perform, and the plot is a wild ride, but every performance is rewarding. It's just so fun.

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Mia Park
Mia Park shares her passion of discovery through teaching yoga and acting. Currently studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Mia is also a producer, writer, motivator, and celebrator of life. Mia has lived in Chicago for over twenty years and calls this city that works her home.

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DePau student Harmony Zhang ​acts in The House of Bernarda Alba​​ by Federico García Lorca, directed by Jeremy Aluma​. ​Lorca’s final play set in the provincial Andalusia, Spain, ignites with the funeral service of Bernarda Alba’s second husband. Ever determined that her five grown daughters maintain a house of honor, Bernarda declares they will have an eight-year mourning period of absolute seclusion. When the eldest daughter receives a large inheritance, potentially sweeping her away from this fate and into an engagement with a handsome bachelor, conflict brews among the sisters repressed by Bernarda’s rule. Set in a time of tumultuous political climate, this story explores the underbelly of what happens when a tyrant seizes power. The House of Bernarda Alba runs Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM November 7, through November 12, 2017. Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing theatreboxoffice@depaul.edu. Press Opening is Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM. **Preview is Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Room 403 of The Theatre School at DePaul University at 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 What's your personal story? I grew up in Tucson, Arizona as one of very few Chinese Americans in my neighborhood. I remember that my sister and I were the only Chinese kids in my whole elementary school. However, my family attended a Chinese church in downtown Tucson, and I also attended Tucson Chinese School where I learned to read and write Mandarin Chinese. I’m very thankful for the persistence that my parents had to have my sister and me grow up learning Chinese and holding on to our ethnic culture. However, growing up, I felt like I was never fully Chinese nor fully American. I didn’t feel the need to blend in with the other kids, but I also desired to connect better with others. An opportunity came up in kindergarten when the entire grade put on a show for the whole school. This was the first time that I felt like I was part of a team, part of a larger group effort to create something fun and beautiful. I remember that year, our production was called ‘To the Future and Beyond,’ and I sang the final solo of the show. In middle school and high school, I continued to take drama classes whenever possible. I loved learning about the lives of people so different from me, memorizing my lines, and sharing those stories with audiences. In college at Duke University, I decided to major in Psychology and Theater Studies, and also performed in three of the Theater Department’s Mainstage shows. Currently, I’m in my second year of my MFA in Acting program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. What's your character's story in "The House of Bernarda Alba”? My character’s name is Angustias, which means anguish or distress. She is the eldest unmarried daughter of Bernarda Alba and is already 39. Angustias is the sole daughter of Bernarda Alba’s former husband, while the rest of her sisters are the daughters of Antonio Maria Benavides, the man they are all mourning at the top of the show. Angustias’ father was rich, so when Antonio Maria Benavides dies and the property must be divided, Angustias’ share of the estate is much larger than that of her sisters. This wealth that Angustias has is then attractive to Pepe, who is trying to marry her, and while Angustias truly believes that he loves her for her, she really just wants to be loved and free from the oppression and alienation she feels within the walls of Bernarda’s house. What challenges does your character face telling this story? Angustias is constantly struggling with the antagonistic energy she receives from her sisters. No matter what she does, her sisters find some way to make her feel even more alienated and separate from the group. No one really gives her a chance to share more about herself. Angustias is always defending herself, but somehow it always comes off as offensive towards her sisters. She doesn’t feel understood. She wants her mother’s approval, but also doesn’t feel fully understood by her either. Angustias has a hard time in this story, because she doesn’t feel like anyone is on her side. How does the character overcome those challenges? Angustias changes throughout the play—I won’t give away too much, but in some ways, Angustias is redeemed from all of her bitterness at the end of the play when her sisters discover how they have wronged her. While Angustias behaved more out of spite at the top of the show, she begins to genuinely ask for help, advice, and empathy at the end of the play. Angustias overcomes her challenges of alienation towards the end of the play when she risks being judged by her mother and sisters by being more vulnerable, and seeking to find the truth, even if she gets hurt in the end. Any other comments? I hope that this play helps audience members to be thankful for the people in life who love them, to hold them close, and to try to understand each other instead of being blinded by individual desires. Why not work together? Why not be a team and create something beautiful? Life is too short not to make the most of it every day. Thank you so much for your time!
Mia Park
11/13/2017