#FringeFemmes 2021 are Here! Meet M.J. Kang

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists from all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.

M.J. Kang s a five time Moth story slam queen who has built a career on turning her personal stories into performative works that remind us all what it means to be human. M.J. has had her work seen on PBS and Risk! Podcast. Her new solo show, THE WINNER,  is revealing, telling and reminds us all that facing our emotions will heal generations.

Constance: What do you hope audience members take away after experiencing your show?  

M.J.: I hope audiences come away with having felt a variety of emotions throughout the piece, have been fully engaged, entertained, laughed a great deal and,perhaps, even cried while watching this show. I am sharing who I am with the audiences and I hope they come away with understanding the experiences I’ve lived and can relate to them, identity with them, even if they look nothing like me. I hope they see the humanity of the experiences I’ve had that comes with always holding on to hope and seeing the positive in some tough situations when I don’t have the answers and I’m just trying my best.

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of your development/creation process?

M.J.:  My biggest challenge has been trusting myself that the process can be easy. The piece itself has been guided by structure and instinct – how the pieces fit together to create a show that is entertaining, funny, and deeply felt.

Constance: What are you enjoying most as you create your show?

M.J. Kang: How different people are affected by my words. I’ve been performing short pieces of my show in various story slams throughout the pandemic virtually, across the US, Canada and London, England. People are still having emotional responses to my words, which has been gratifying. I have enjoyed watching the Zoom boxes of people’s faces as they react and then vote for me to win and I have won quite a few slams:  5 Moth story slams, a Story Collider slam, National Storytellers Network slam and countless others this year. The whole year-long process of creating this piece has been rewarding in many ways – especially to see people’s reactions during a time when we weren’t able to have in-person performances.

Constance: And what has been the most surprising discovery?

M.J. Kang: The most surprising discovery is how easy it’s been to enlist my daughter to play the live music for The Winner. I truly appreciate her willingness to be part of the show and process. Her involvement adds so many wonderful elements to the production and live music creates an emotional ambiance that is irreplaceable.

Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?

M.J. Kang: I feel excited to be sharing my full piece to the Fringe audiences. Because I’ve been performing up to 40 minute versions of this piece in different iterations, I am very excited to see the response from a theater going audience. I am excited to be performing on an actual stage and not just in my bedroom against a wall. 

Constance: How long have you been sitting with this work? Why Fringe? Why this year?

M.J Kang: This piece is inspired by my life so I’ve been sitting with this work for my entire being. This piece is a huge reflection of the world I live in and my experiences, including what has happened to me this year. If I hadn’t lived this year, I would not be able to write this piece or perform it. It has immediacy and relevance through a lens of warm positivity. I find I need that in life – to remain positive and hopeful.

For more information on THE WINNER in #HFF21, visit  http://hff21.co/7052

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