What is your name? Where are you from?
My name is Hansol Jung and I’m from Korea. I currently live in New York City as a working playwright.
What is the project you’re working on at SPACE?
I’m sort of going back and forth between two things. One is a production that I have with Ma-Yi in the fall, a play called Among the Dead. The other project is a translation of Romeo and Juliet commissioned by OSF (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). It’s a massive commission of 36 writers to look at all of Shakespeare’s plays and translate them. It depends on what the writer feels “translating” is to them. I’ve been trying to look at the parts of Romeo and Juliet that I can’t really understand and change it to something I do understand. It’s a really cool exercise.
Among the Dead is set in three different times. It’s basically about these two fictional people who met during World War II. There’s a thing called “comfort women”, which is the term that describes sex slaves for the Japanese army in WWII. One of the characters is a comfort woman who’s running away and runs into a U.S. soldier who’s also lost in Myanmar. They’re trying to survive together and in that process have sex and have a baby. The story sort of unfolds in three different ways. One is in 1975. The baby that they had is grown up and learning through a magical journal about how she was born. There is another thread where the comfort woman who calls herself Number Four is waiting for Luke, the soldier, on a bridge with Jesus. Then there’s the journal. The three time threads that fold into each other in space.
Where have you been spending most of your time at SPACE?
I’ve been spending my time at the big table on the main floor of Kay Hall. It’s so nice among the records and record player, big mirror, and the outside view. I enjoy large desk spaces because I sprawl with all my papers, drafts, different beverages, snacks. I also really enjoy writing with other people in silence. I think it’s an energy thing. It’s as though I’m syphoning off theirs.
Yesterday I went and took the raft out to the middle of the lake. I’m working on a part in the play where the bridge is bombed and she’s fallen into the water. It’s a whole scene in the river. It helps to be in the lake by myself, holding my breath, feeling it through my body. I’m having an easier time writing it today than I was yesterday. I was feeling very stuck and frustrated. I’m very good at forcing myself to sit down and work. It’s often not very helpful to do that. But there’s just a lot of space and other things to do here. They’re not distractions, but pretty helpful. I wouldn’t usually go to a pool in the city, so having the lake was nice. You often feel rushed by your deadline too, always asking “How many hours am I clocking for this?” It’s nice to be reminded that there are other ways to be productive; like experiential writing.
What’s coming up next for you and your project?
Among the Dead is headed for production in the fall at HERE Arts Center. The first draft of the translation for Romeo and Juliet is due in October. Both are happening at the same time so I have to juggle with deadlines.
If you were reincarnated as a farm animal, which farm animal would you be and why?
I think the white horse. I was walking back from the bonfire yesterday and they were the ones who greeted me by the fence. In the dark they looked so unicorn-y and special. They don’t have to care about anything else besides how beautiful they are. That sounds like a good way to live. And they’re also retired and look so happy – beauty and contentedness.