Sara Porkalob (Madame Dragon) returns to Nordo to direct and star in the premiere of playwright Seayoung Yim’s sultry tale. Set during the first large scale wave of Asian American Immigration in The Persimmon Grove, a lurid nightclub, a brash young Korean immigrant rises to great heights in his ethnic enclave while balancing two lovers and many debts in the 1960s/70s. At the top of his game, he risks it all. Persimmon nights features pungent Korean food and the all-girl pop duo The Kimchi Kittens.
Mara Elissa Palma
Playwright: Seayoung Yim
Director: Sara Porkalob
Asst. Director: Josh Kenji
Food Designer: Erin Brindley with Corinne Magin
Lighting: Emily Leong
Sound Design: Erin Bednarz
Musical Direction/Performance: Nikki Dee
Set and Properties: Robin Macartney
Costumes: Natalie Shih
Stage Management: Nina Williams Teramachi
We had a wonderfully diverse audience demographic turn out for our show. For each night, at least 75% of the audience was AAPI (Asian American, Pacific Islander) and a wide range of ages were represented as well, from college freshman groups to Korean senior citizens. There was also a large turnout of families. We had range of members from community organizations attend such as, LGBTQ Allyship, Got Green, Seattle Asian Film Festival, Gabriella Seattle, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Wing Luke Asian Museum, Sahngnoksoo, Soobak, and OneAmerica.
All of the AAPI actors in our show have repeatedly voiced how empowering it is to be in a show where being Asian isn’t illustrated as the “other” but instead is the focus of the story. Our audience has also been incredibly vocal about their appreciation of the production, how the Korean family dynamic is their personal story, and how this is the first time they’ve seen anything close to resembling their childhood onstage. The mother/daughter dynamic is also something that really resonates with our audience-a lot of AAPI women have approached us to say that we were able to capture and depict a relationship that, while often painful, was handled with compassion and humor on-stage and really showcased the complex relationship between immigrant mothers and American born children.
Two women from the Korean cultural group, Oolleemm, came up to me after a performance and told me the show made them weep. They said it was so great to see a Korean story on stage and it moved them deeply. They were complete strangers, yet they embraced me as if we were family. They also said they would like to collaborate on a future project incorporating Korean cultural dance.
My very first full length production will premiere at Annex Theatre for their 29th Season!
Do It For Umma
Directed by Sara Porkalob
February 2–17 2016, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Synopsis: In the back room of a Korean convenience store, Umma returns as a ghost to shame, cajole, and needle her American born daughter, Hannah, into avenging her suspicious death. While Hannah’s older brother shirks off familial duties in favor of romantic trysts, Hannah must embark alone on a surreal mission to gain Umma’s ever-elusive approval. Featuring a chorus of ajummas and a healthy dose of revenge, Do It For Umma is an absurdist tragicomedy about the sacrifices one must make to protect their family’s honor, no matter what the cost.