About

disOriented 4

Mission

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat (KPB) is a peacemaking theater collective dedicated to working with artists, non-artists, and local communities to transform experiences of oppression into peace messages through public performance. KPB devises work with an interdisciplinary and multicultural ensembles of artists —our Mondragons— to uplift communities of color to create a culture of peace through non-violent practices that provide social cohesion, spiritual healing, and radical knowledge.

History

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat was founded in 2011 by playwright and director Kyoung H. Park, who spent 10 years researching contemporary political theater models in Brazil, England, India, South Korea, and New York, melding his graduate education in peace studies and playwriting while working with theater companies such as Augusto Boal’s Centro de Teatro do Oprimido, Royal Court Theater, Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, and Lee Breuer/Mabou Mines.

Since its founding, KPB has produced three full-length plays—disOriented, TALA, and PILLOWTALK—and created over 35 community-based, experimental projects including performances for new media. KPB’s work centers stories of (im)migration, queerness, identity and the ways these intersect in communities of color; it’s described as “intensely personal” by American Theater Magazine and “very much of this moment” by the New York Times.

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat is comprised of Mondragons, a resident ensemble of actors, choreographers, dancers, musicians, visual artists, and theatrical designers who are full-partners and equally invested in the work that the company produces. Since 2011, KPB has served 267 artists and our work has been seen by 3,867 audience members.

Programs

The dramaturgical question behind our work is: why make theater in times of war? We believe that theater has the power to dismantle oppressive social structures by radically de-stabilizing normative cultural assumptions that promote structural and direct violence in the world. Our programs include:

  • New Devised Work – we research, develop, and produce experimental new works of theater which we share nationally and internationally through touring and new media.
  • Community Co-Lab -we collaborate with cultural and academic institutions and local, community-based, social justice organizations, to create brave spaces for our community to address communal experiences of oppression and to collectively imagine a culture of peace.
  • Sustain a Peacemaking Community – we support the artistic development of our Mondragons and support leadership development for our staff and community members through our community-led Board of Directors.

Our First Decade

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat grew from an underground collective of like-minded artists gathering in a midtown apartment to an arts organization providing opportunities for our community, which is primarily queer, Asian, Latinx, immigrant and independently working in the arts. Together, we gain access to work in mainstream arts organizations by overcoming structural limitations and racial profiling and create a self-determined body of work challenging the aesthetic expectations of the white curatorial gaze. By focusing on making work by, with, and for our community, we build an intercultural, interdisciplinary, international, and intersectional community that comes together based on our peacemaking mission, rather than based on our individual cultural identities.

In 2011, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat associate produced the World Premiere of disOriented, a family drama based on Kyoung’s matrilineage that delved into North Korean politics with contemporary Korean fan dancing. American Theater Magazine described disOriented as “juicy” and Kyoung’s “most intensely personal” play. disOriented was featured in The Brooklyn Rail, OffOffOnline, Korea Times, chosen as a Flavorpill Editor’s Pick, awarded a 2010 Princess Grace Special Projects grant, and nominated for Best Choreography in 2011 by the New York Innovative Theater Awards.

In 2012, KPB produced workshop productions of TALA at HERE Arts Center and Columbia University’s New Works Now Festival at ToRoNaDa Theater, under the mentorship of Lee Breuer. TALA Premiered in January 2015 at the Performance Project @ University Settlement, where the company was an Artist-in-Residence. TALA was a Time Out Critic’s Pick, received rave reviews, was featured in the Asian-American Arts Alliance’s January Town Hall, and produced with support of a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

In 2015, following the world premiere of TALA, KPB produced a workshop production of PILLOWTALK at the BRIC Arts Media Center. PILLOWTALK is intimate, gay bedroom drama about Sam and Back, an interracial gay couple whose recent marriage comes to a crux. Staged as a contemporary, balletic pas de deux, PILLOWTALK asks: can communities of color truly celebrate marriage equality in times of #BlackLivesMatter? Following an artist residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center and a second workshop production at LaGuardia Performing Art Center’s Rough Draft Festival, PILLOWTALK was presented by The Exponential Festival and received its World Premiere at The Tank (January 2018) and headlined the Consortium of Asian-American Theaters and Artists (CAATA) “Radical Acts” Festival in Victory Gardens in Chicago (August 2018). “A beautiful production… PILLOWTALK is a political work, and feels very much of this moment,” wrote The New York Times.

In 2018, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat launched Community Co-Lab, an arts for change initiative strategically outlining our foci of work under the following four axes: Creating Peace, Queering the Social Order, Securing Cultural Democracy and Representation, and Devising the Future. Through Community Co-Lab, our goal is to ensure that our work with community is designed as participatory art-making, where systems of oppression are made visible in order to disrupt cycles of violence by imagining an alternative, culture of peace.

At the same time, KPB underwent a long-term, strategic planning process with support from a 2018-2019 Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI) Fellowship and 2018-2020 Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Leadership Fellows Program. Artistically, KPB began Research & Development work for our next work-in-progress, NERO, with generous support from the MAP Fund, Venturous Theater Fund, Jerome Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Dramatist Guild Fellowship program. The World Premiere of NERO will be developed as a hybrid, “streamplay” production with support from Pregones/PRTT, and its ASAP/Artist Space At Pregones initiative, and with financial support from the Ford Foundation.