About the Grant

$25,000 to support Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven (MAP 2006), a new theater piece by Young Jean Lee to be premiered at HERE Arts Center in New York City.

About the Project

Korean-American Young Jean Lee’s worst nightmare is to make a show about Korea called Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven. Thus, her new play, Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven presents her confused, disturbing, and frequently offensive take on her cultural background in all of its romanticized, half-informed, and brutal honesty. The show is also about being in love and trying to be happy when you're so messed-up that all you want to do is destroy everything in your path. But most of all, Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven is about white people.

The show starts with a video of Young Jean getting hit in the face repeatedly and then launches into a creepy pseudo-Korean world navigated by a Korean-American, who is like a contestant wandering through different stages of an identity-politics video game. Then, out of nowhere, there is a white couple having a relationship drama. The Koreans and whites alternate scenes, infecting each other thematically and occasionally coming into direct conflict, until eventually the white couple "eats" the play and we never see the Koreans again. Much of the play is spoken in Korean and other Asian languages pretending to be Korean, and there's some Korean dancing as well.

The idea of “confession” in identity politics haunts the play in the form of another central character: that of the play’s author narcissistically projecting her identity onto both the Koreans and the whites—a character who is no more or less bogus or real than anything else in the show.

Related Websites

HERE Arts Center


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