INNER WORLDS TO OUTER SPACE:
The Multimedia Performances of Dan Kwong
Published by University of Michigan Press
collection of performance scripts by solo artist Dan Kwong, including six
major multimedia creations, three short pieces, plus insightful commentary
by editor Prof. Robert Vorlicky, NYU. These works address themes ranging from
masculinity & male conditioning to domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, homophobia,
and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
With eloquence, passion, and a generous sense of humor, Kwongs stories are combined with striking visuals and dynamic physicality. This significant body of work represents a unique voice of clarity, insight and hopefulness as he dives into the murky waters of identities: gender, culture, sexuality, and race. Using himself and his life as a laboratory specimen, Kwongs narratives reveal the links between the personal and the political, exposing the invisible and the unspeakable within, and provide a model for moving through internalized oppression with a good laugh and a good cry along the way.
The Drama Review (Vol 50 No. 4) says:
"From Inner Worlds to Outer Space reveals the ways in which Asian American aesthetic practices demand an integrated study of race and performance."
"...often-elaborate stage directions convey the spectacular elements of Kwong's pieces."
"Dan Kwong in some ways continues the tradition of the Asian American vaudevillian..."
"Certainly Kwong's book will help students and fans - some of whom may not have the opportunity to see a particular show - visualize the performance event."
DESCRIPTION OF CONTENTS
Secrets of The Samurai Centerfielder (1989) was Kwongs debut performance, a sprawling epic about his lifelong passion for baseball, his Japanese grandfathers life from Japan to L.A. to WWII internment, the Beijing student demonstrations in Tienanmen Square in 1989, and Kwongs own journey to self-acceptance as an Asian American.
Tales From The Fractured Tao with Master Nice Guy (1991) recounts the joys and pains of Kwongs childhood family life, with the dubious assistance of Master Nice Guy a cross between the Wizard of Oz and a burnt-out social worker. From Kwongs näive attempts to prevent his parents divorce to his outrageous clandestine forays into the elementary school auditorium, his adventures lead to a deep understanding and love for family.
Monkhood in 3 Easy Lessons (1993) revolves around issues of masculinity from an Asian American perspective. The most physically dynamic of Kwongs works, it includes sword-swinging, baseball batting, treadmill running and athletic dance. Kwong tells sharply contrasting stories of his two grandfathers, illuminating the history of Chinese and Japanese American men, along with his own struggles with the dehumanizing social conditioning males receive.
Correspondence of A Dangerous Enemy Alien (1995) was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the closing of WWII Japanese American internment camps. A documentary piece, it was based on the contents of an old family suitcase containing letters of Kwongs Japanese grandfather from the outbreak of war to the reunion of the family. It featured an elaborate site-specific staging and marked the first time Kwong incorporated sections from previous works, passages from Samurai Centerfielder and Monkhood in 3 Easy Lessons.
The Dodo Vaccine (1996) was originally commissioned by Panchayat in London, part of an exhibition by four American Asians addressing HIV/AIDS and its impact on their community. It covered challenging topics such as homophobia and cultural taboos about sex, death and the body, as well as compulsive sexual behavior. Kwongs most ambitious stage design, it incorporated 100 balloons, 1,000 ping pong balls, 200 pounds of rock salt, a giant amoeba cell, an onstage shower, giant condom package, and several quarts of purple slime.
The Night The Moon Landed on 39th Street (1999) represents a marked departure for Kwong, his first work which is not identity-based. Kwong reveals a lifelong fascination with that final frontier, space and his obsession with getting there. His most complex multimedia creation, Kwong employs extensive video, audio and slide projection along with some wild props and costumes. A heartfelt journey of wonder and a re-discovery of human connection are the essence of this piece.
"The Sword and The Chrysanthemum" (1997) A floral beheading takes place onstage in this poetic depiction of the systematic de-sensitization of males.
"Al The Barber" (1997) Desperate loneliness, insidious homophobia, and a hungry heart in search of closeness.
"Station Wagons of Life" (2001) Funny, poignant anecdotes of growing up in a working-class Asian American family in Tinseltown. See the USA in your Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Datsun, Subaru, and god forbid, Volvo...
Clothbound: $55.00Not scheduled for inclusion in the book but cogent: