Our Organization

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. The dramaturgical question behind our work is: why make theater in times of war?

KPB grew from an underground collective of like-minded artists gathering in a midtown apartment to a devising company creating work for our community, which is primarily queer, Asian-American, Latinx, and immigrant. Our ensemble is comprised of Mondragons, resident artists who share collective ownership of our work and practice consensus-based decision-making on our performances, design, budgets, and long-term artistic priorities.

Our History

Since its founding, KPB has devised four full-length plays—disOriented, TALA, PILLOWTALK and NERO—and through Community Co-Lab, co-created over 40 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.

Through our New Devised Works program, KPB has served 447 artists and our work has been seen by 4,778 audience members and in 2022, our digital programming had over 2,000 online viewers. Through our Community Co-Lab program, we formalize community partnerships with arts and culture organizations, academic institutions, and grass-roots organizations such as The Blasian March, Asians4Abolition, GAPIMNY and The Exponential Festival to co-design free public programming through a community-care based framework. Most recently, KPB distributed over 550 free pre-packaged food and personal hygiene products, 6,750 PPE items, and hot meals for 300+ local community members with support from local BIDS including Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Flatbush Nostrand Junction. Our Black & Asian solidarity work received a 2021 American Express/APAP Innovation grant and a 2022 Innovation Award from the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate-Crimes.

Our First Decade (2011 – 2021)

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 produced by Theater C and 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 Kyoung 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, KPB produced a workshop production of PILLOWTALK at the BRIC Arts Media Center. PILLOWTALK is an intimate, gay bedroom drama about Sam and Back, an interracial gay couple whose recent marriage comes to a crux. Staged as a contemporary 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 received its World Premiere at The Tank (January 2018) as part of The Exponential Festival 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 community-based work is designed as participatory art-making wherein systems of oppression are made visible in order to disrupt cycles of violence by fostering the imagination of an alternative culture of peace. 

Our Second Decade (2021 – Present)

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 resulting in a 10-year strategic plan for the organization. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Park assembled a group of female and non-binary leaders of color in our community to incorporate KPB as a 501c3 non-profit organization. Kyoung’s Pacific Beat, Inc. incorporated as a non-profit on March 17, 2021 and received 501(c)3 tax-exemption status on May 11, 2021. As a non-profit, KPB grew exponentially supported by grants from the NEA, New York State Council of the Arts, private foundations and became the first BIPOC-led theater to provide union-rate wages in Flatbush, Brooklyn. 

Artistically, KPB began Research & Development work for 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 was developed as a hybrid “streamplay” production with support from Pregones/PRTT and its ASAP/Artist Space At Pregones initiative and with lead financial support from the Ford Foundation and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 

KPB’s Community Co-Lab also grew to develop remunerated strategic partnerships to include new rounds of community-engagement and mutual aid under the themes of “Whiteness on Fire” and incorporated community-care strategies through a new axis called “Decolonizing Nature.” Through this new focus, KPB received its first NEA grant to commission its next work-in-progress, OTHER NO MORE.

KPB’s community has been nurtured through partnerships based on mutuality and community-care. Our current partners are Asians Fighting Injustice, GAPIMNY – Empowering Queer & Trans APIs, Caribbean Equality Project, and The Exponential Festival. Our audience demographic is 34% queer APIA, 33% queer BIPOC, 22% White allies, and 11% arts funders. Our programming has a “pay what you can” ticketing scale to ensure continued public access to our events.

Mission, Vision & Values

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 interdisciplinary and multicultural ensembles of artists —our Mondragons— to uplift communities of color to create a culture of peace through non-violent practices that provides social cohesion, spiritual healing, and radical knowledge.

Vision

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat envisions a world where all people have agency, liberation and healing. We pursue our vision by creating a culture of peace where individuals have the capacity to transform themselves and communities transform through collective action. Based on our theory of change, we actively engage in a regenerative, peace-making process in which we scale the impact of our work through campaign-based organizing; build systems of accountability centering fairness, equity and disruption; and co-design processes that are well-resourced to ensure the safety, health, and ongoing education of our artists and communities.

Values

Boundary-Breaking Discourse

Our priority is to build bridges across class-based differences and race/identity-based politics, while aesthetically blurring the lines between community, political, and experimental theater. We do this by creating opportunities for intercultural, interdisciplinary, interracial, international, and intersectional dialogue between artists and non-artists, cemented on anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and anti-poverty ethics.

Aesthetic Rigor

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s artistic intention is to provide spiritual elevation and social cohesion, a mode of radical, critical thought, and illuminate prophetic signals of an alternative knowledge that might help improve the lives of people all over the world. We pursue this by rigorously creating new work based on collaborative principles for artistic experimentation, centering artist-led research and discovery processes, while instituting frameworks to examine how theater and peace-making can be practiced together.

Non-Violent Change

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat is a social-change oriented company. Our work aligns itself with the ebbs and flows of contemporary, social movements and we participate in the struggles to overcome cultural taboos and institutional barriers in order to serve and represent marginalized communities in the theater. We believe Theater Arts serve as a tool for nonviolent social change by exploring our interconnectedness, bridging cultural differences, and staging what is True, Good, and Beautiful in being Human.

Programs

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.

We believe direct violence is perpetuated by structural racism, so our work invites artists and community members to explore how theater can create nonviolent, social change by imagining a racially just, culture of peace. 

PILLOWTALK, Victory Gardens, Chicago, August 17, 2018. Photo by @andytoad

Our programs include:

  • New Devised Work – we research, develop, and produce devised theater which we share nationally and internationally through touring and new media. ​​Our Mondragons, a diverse ensemble of resident performers, visual artists, theater designers, choreographers, and musicians, collaborate in the creation of our productions following our peace-oriented mission and anti-oppression values. 
  • Community Co-Lab – we collaborate with local, community-based, social justice organizations, academic and cultural institutions, to co-create community-driven events and participatory research in brave and inclusive spaces to imagine a culture of peace amongst artists and local communities members. 
  • Sustain a Peacemaking Community – we support the artistic development of our Mondragons and leadership development of our staff, community and partners through our community-based Board of Directors. 

Out of 15 resident Mondragons, 7 have worked with KPB for 10+ years and we invite community-partner nominated artists to join our ensemble on a yearly basis. Value-aligned collaborations through our programs result in invitations to join KPB as artists, staff members and/or Board members, to ensure that the governance, creation, and advocacy work remains accountable to the communities we serve.