What makes someone a superhero? If we look to this summer’s “Man of Steel,” the latest addition to the Hollywood-blockbuster Superman franchise, the answer would be surviving umpteen explosions without a scratch, a very tight uniform and a chiseled jaw.
I think everyone wants to be a superhero, to be better than they are. When I was seven I decided I would become Catwoman. I drew up night-watch routes, designed my costume, imagined myself kicking butt. I wanted to rob banks and give money to people who really needed it. Eventually, as I got a bit older, and became all elbows and knees, Catwoman’s elegance, just like the current Superman’s indestructibility, became unrelatable material.
Several years ago, after coming out of the latest Spiderman movie feeling nonplussed, I had a serious discussion with a friend about why the film had made us both angry. We boiled it down to the inability to compare our day-to-day struggles, even archetypically, to the current big money superhero movies.
The problems of the hero were always uncomplicated and clear. The hero is good in everyway. The villain (easy to identify by the costume) is bad in every way. There was none of the heart-crushing chaotic mess of everyday problems. We agreed that sometimes, just getting through a day without being a weasely schmuck was worthy of a superhero certificate.
Being a fine arts student at the time, I decided to write a play about “average” superheroes. These heroes would have smaller abilities and would deal with everyday problems. The idea was working, but the play wasn’t, so I put the idea in a drawer and forgot about it.
I took the idea out again on Jeju. After a lot of writing I finally managed to articulate, through characters, what I think is heroic about everyday average folk.
I think we all want what the superhero movies promise: True loyalty; unfailing morals; generous love. Yet, inevitably, life is going to kick our butts in one way or another, and most often we take that as a cue to get a bit tougher and trust a bit less, often effectively becoming more of what we don’t like in the world.
The heart of the play is about the belief that small actions matter. That the choice to be kind and honest and loving, especially when you have stacks of evidence that it doesn’t profit you, is in fact a heroic act.
I brought the play to a group of friend for a table reading and it hit the ground running. Suddenly I was directing and producing and looking for four actors. I was very lucky to find Sarah Ranco, Karima Walker, Shannon Warren and Paul Hughes, all of whom have extensive performance experience. Immediately I wanted the profits to go back to Jeju and partnered with the Jeju Furey Foundation so that the net proceeds from the event would go to the foundation and back to Jeju.
I found the theater through a stroke of amazing fortune. I was asked to be one of the nine priestesses in the Seolmundae Halmang ritual at Jeju Stone Park this year in May. It was an incredibly beautiful ceremony and deeply touching to be a part of it as a foreigner.
On my tour of the beautiful grounds I poked my head into the indoor theater. It was stunning and immediately I vowed to somehow get the play there. Marsha Bogolin and Beak Yujin from Jeju’s Joyville proposed the idea to the park’s artistic director, Peck Eun Chul, and he championed the idea. Together with the help of Song Junghee, the play had a home. Jeju Stone Park generously donated the space to the play.
My personal wish for this project is that it will draw English speakers, native and foreign alike, to meet up for this great cause and enjoy the incredible performances of these talented actors.
Super!, a dark comedy about “average superheros” will have one performance only at Jeju Stone Park’s theater on July 27. There will be one shuttle bus, free to the first 45 people to sign up, leaving and returning to Jeju’s City Hall.
The play will start at 7pm, but guests are encouraged to arrive from 6pm on to take in a short wander, free of charge, around the immediate grounds. To see the whole park would take many hours, but this is a chance for a lovely introduction.
There will be a celebration after the play at The Factory in City Hall. To reserve tickets, please visit:
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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