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NERO


NERO’s “Suck My Violin.” Lyrics and music video direction by Kyoung H. Park. Performed by Dave Gelles, Claudia Acosta, David Anzuelo, Veracity Butcher, Daniel K. Isaac, Sade Namei, Ryan Opalanietet, Kaila Saunders, Imran Sheikh, and Ishmael Thaahir. Original Music by Helen Yee. Set and Video design by Marie Yokoyama. Sound design by Lawrence Schober. Costume design by Andrew Jordan. Dramaturgy by Jess Applebaum. Assistant Direction by Ishmael Thaahir. Vocal Coaching by Rachel Kodweis.

NERO is a Shakespearean, five-act “streamplay” theatricalizing the history from George W. Bush’s War on Terror to our present day as the rise and fall of Nero’s Roman Empire. Set in 64AD in Rome’s Palace of the Frogs, this “state of the nation” tragicomedy invites Black, Indigenous and People of Color to examine how white male supremacy is the root of American Imperialism. NERO is a hybrid event that includes both a screening of this theatrical production presented jointly with live, community-driven, cultural invocations of a post-white supremacist world.

Written and directed by Kyoung H. Park
Performed by Dave Gelles, Claudia Acosta, Carolina Do, Yadira De La Riva, Ariel Estrada, Daniel K. Isaac, Ash Mayers, Kaila Saunders, Imran Sheikh, and Ishmael Thaahir

Creative Team
Original Music by Helen Yee
Set, Video and Props design by Yoon Choi
Video Animation design by Marie Yokoyama
Sound design by Lawrence Schober
Costume design by Andrew Jordan
Stage Management by Isaac Winston
Assistant Direction by Ishmael Thaahir
Community Engagement by Joe Tolbert, Jr.
Dramaturgy by Jess Applebaum
Artistic Advisement by Betsy Theobald Richards

Learn more about NERO
“Fellows Spotlight: Kyoung H. Park”, Hannah Kloepfer, Dramatist Guild Foundation. Sept. 10, 2020.
“Playwright Kyoung H. Park on Peace, Theater and the Artist’s Duty”, Theodore Pavlich, Lambda Literary. May 13, 2019.

Development Credits

NERO received public readings with the Ma-Yi Theater’s Writer’s Lab (February 2015), Sol Project (February 2016), New Ohio Theater’s Producer’s Club (October 2017), supported by a 2019-2020 Dramatist Guild Fellowship and based on research conducted at the George W. Bush Presidential Archives in Dallas. NERO’s workshop production was developed with generous support from the Howard Gilman Foundation, Jerome Foundation, MAP Fund, and Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation.

The World Premiere of NERO will be developed with support from Pregones/PRTT, and its ASAP/Artist Space At Pregones initiative, and with seed funding from the Ford Foundation.

NERO is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).

Public Programming

NERO (Workshop Production) – Live Screening
Sunday, June 12th, 2022, 12pm-3:30pm EST
Hillel Plaza – Flatbush Junction, Brooklyn
2, 5 trains to Flatbush Avenue
To RSVP and to volunteer and/or donate pre-packaged goods, please click here.

Inspired by Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s ongoing community-based dialogues, “Whiteness on Fire,” our company is organizing our second, annual, mutual-aid campaign in partnership with GAPIMNY – Empowering Queer & Trans APIs, The Blasian March, Asians4Abolition, Indie Space and The Exponential Festival.

On Sunday, June 12th, from 12pm-3:30pm, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat will invite BIPOC healing artists, abolitionist organizers, and our community at large to engage in somatic healing exercises, our Black and Asian Book Club, and a free, outdoor screening of NERO at Hillel Plaza in Flatbush Junction, Brooklyn.

In addition to our cultural programming, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat will lead a mutual aid drive to provide pre-packaged food and water for local community members. We hope you will support our mutual aid campaign by volunteering your time, donating food, or donating to our organization to make this event a success.


“Dismantling the Far Right and White Supremacy: What Hasn’t Worked?”
Wednesday, May 25th, 2022, 7-8:30pm EST
Free RSVP via PeoplesHub

PeoplesHub invites you to an online, free screening of our new work-in-progress NERO. This screening and moderated conversation will ask participants:

What is white supremacy and how are artists dismantling its narrative structures embedded in American culture? How do we activate our community to dismantle the power structures of white supremacy? How do we gather to learn what’s working and what’s not?

Hope Ghazala
Hope Ghazala

Hope Ghazala (no pronouns, name only) is a Licensed Social Worker, facilitator, and organizer. Hope has grounded Hopeself in fostering leadership development, particularly for youth of color. Experiences working as a popular and political educator in museums, domestic violence, consent campaigns, and the youth climate movement have expanded Hope’s passion for making information accessible and spaces value multicultural experiences. As a proud Muslim and self-proclaimed “Egypt-o-Rican”, Hope receives power and guidance from Hope’s spiritual and cultural identities. Hope finds purpose in cross-pollinating and uplifting the needs and voices of disinvested communities. At PeoplesHub, Hope focuses on connecting people with each other and with the knowledge to sustain and thrive. Hope is a native New Yorker who loves exploring NYC, traveling internationally, dancing, and reading cross-cultural fiction.

Jess Applebaum
Jess Applebaum

Jess Applebaum is a dramaturg-scholar whose practice is rooted in contemporary performance and social action. As a dramaturg she works collaboratively with performance makers, academics, and activists to develop and facilitate creative processes. Her work pays particular attention to lifting up the cultural and political context of each project: identifying how the content developed serves both its creators and its audience in a shared, live moment. As a PhD candidate in CUNY’s Theater and Performance program, Jess’ scholarship focuses on the labor of dramaturgy: pushing the perceived boundaries of how research is performed and applied in both creative and academic work. She believes that bodies perform knowledge, process activates power, and that, together, they can inspire new pedagogical and civic practices.

Joe Tolbert
Joe Tolbert

Joe received his B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and completed his M. Div. with a concentration in Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York. As a Cultural Organizer and Consultant, Joe is the founder and lead cultural strategist of Art at the Intersections where he is a sought after facilitator and cultural strategist that works with communities to help them harness the power of art and culture through the building, implementation, and evaluation of cultural strategies. As a writer, he has contributed articles to Alternate ROOTS, Arts Black, and Quiet Lunch, among others.

Kyoung H. Park
Kyoung H. Park

Kyoung H. Park is a North Korean playwright/director, born and raised in Santiago, Chile, currently living in unceded territory of the Lenape. As Artistic Director of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat, he has devised three full-length plays — disOriented, TALA, and PILLOWTALK — and created over 35 community-based, experimental projects including performances for new media. His work centers stories of (im)migration, queerness, trauma, 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. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and an MA in Peace and Global Governance from Kyung Hee University’s Graduate Institute for Peace Studies.


Whiteness on Fire: Abolish the Empire
Tuesday, September 21, 2021, 7-9pm

After witnessing the recent brutality wrought by US Imperialism in Afghanistan and its ongoing effects internationally and at home, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat continues its work with GAPIMNY – Empowering Queer and Trans APIs, Communities United for Police Reform, The Blasian March and The Exponential Festival to host “Whiteness on Fire: Abolish the Empire” on the UN International Day of Peace.

Whiteness on Fire: Abolish the Empire” will feature a sneak peak of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s new work-in-progress, NERO, and a long-table conversation to ask:

Where and how do we see militarization at play within our communities? How do we activate our communities to demilitarize America and defund the police? What storytelling is necessary to advance abolitionist work in our community?

Read KPB’s Primer to Abolition Work here.

Eric Lockley
Eric Lockley

Eric Lockley (Producing Artistic Leader, The Movement Theatre Company). Originally from Baltimore, MD, Lockley is an award-winning actor, writer, comedian, producer, and a founder of two Harlem-based organizations: The Movement Theatre Company and Harlem9. With these organizations Eric has produced critically acclaimed productions and festivals, published anthologies of new plays and created initiatives that highlight the complexity and diversity of people of color. The Movement Theatre Company’s digital programming, “1MOVE:DES19NED BY…”, which commissioned 30 designers of color in the midst of quarantine, recently received a Drama League award nomination. And the company’s production of What to Send Up When It Goes Down by Aleshea Harris is presented this Fall at Playwrights Horizons. Eric is a part of the 2022 Devised Theater Working Group and will have a presentation of his Afrofuturistic play Sweet Chariot at the Under The Radar Festival at The Public Theater in January.

Joo-Hyun Kang
Joo-Hyun Kang

Joo-Hyun Kang is the Director of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) and executive director of CPR Action (CPR’s sibling c4 political organization). CPR is a multi-strategy, multi-sector campaign to end abusive policing in New York and reduce reliance on policing for community safety. CPR works to build and redefine community safety, strengthens community-based infrastructure to prevent and challenge police violence, and has organized coalitions of 200+ organizations to secure landmark policy and organizing victories in New York. Joo-Hyun joined CPR’s staff with two decades of experience in social justice work as an organizer, trainer, and strategist with racial justice, LGBT rights, gender justice, immigrant rights, and police accountability projects. In prior lives, she has been an acupuncturist; consultant to social change organizations and philanthropies; served as the Astraea Lesbian Foundation’s director of global grantmaking for LGBTI rights; was the first Executive Director of The Audre Lorde Project, where she developed organizing programs for LGBTST communities of color; and has been a member and on the board of various organizing groups.

Jason Wu
Jason Wu

Jason Wu is currently a co-chair for GAPIMNY-Empowering Queer & Trans Asian Pacific Islanders, a queer and trans AAPI organization that focuses on community building, political education and mutual aid. Wu is also Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society’s Harlem Community Law Office. Their writing on abolition, intersectionality and social movements has been published in Teen Vogue, Truthout, Refinery 29, Gotham Gazette, NY Daily News, and more.


Whiteness on Fire: Building Together”
Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Following the Atlanta massacre, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat continues its work with GAPIMNY – Empowering Queer and Trans APIs to host a virtual long-table facilitated by Conrhonda E. Baker (Board Member, Sole Defined) and guest speakers Joyce Adewumi (Founder and President, NYC Multicultural Festival), Carolina Dỗ (Asians4Abolition, The Song Collective), Rohan Zhou-Lee (Founder, Blasian March) and Ishmael Thaahir (Assistant Director, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat NERO).

In light of ongoing anti-Black and anti-Asian violence, how can we manifest freedom and liberation in the face of white supremacy?

KPB’s events are free, online and available to community members of our company and partner organizations. We will center the voices of women of color and our Black Allies and welcome white-identified allies to attend to learn, listen and provide support.

Resources: “Whiteness on Fire: Building Together” Event Program

Joyce Adewumi
Joyce Adewumi

Joyce Adewumi is the founder and president of the New York African Chorus Ensemble Inc., a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization located in NYC. Under her leadership, the organization presents programs that seek to change the erroneous and racist perceptions about Africa. These programs include “The Gathering” concert series; the international conference and festival “Dialogue: Africa Meets North America in Harlem;” The Space Speaker Series and the annual “NYC Multicultural Festival,” the largest showcase and celebration of cultural diversity in New York City which is a collaboration between her organization and the NYPD. Ms. Adewumi has received local, national and international recognition for her work. She has received awards from Nigeria, Germany including many New York City based Elected Officials and organizations. Ms. Adewumi founded the “We Are Endless Roar Nigeria Tour” and executively produced the “We Are The Endless Roar” feature film. Ms. Adewumi serves the New York City community in various capacities.

Conrhonda E. Baker
Conrhonda E. Baker

Conrhonda’s passion for the performing arts is grounded in her dance background, sparked by taking after-school classes at a county-wide recreational facility in rural northeast Georgia. She founded The Bese Saka in 2018 as a way to live out her Christian faith by actively intervening and building equity into the process of securing institutional funding support. She currently also serves as the Communications Officer at the Howard Gilman Foundation. Her professional experience developed through work with South Arts, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Alabama Dance Council, Vulcan Park and Museum, Birmingham Museum of Art, and Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation. In addition to being a member of Women of Color in the Arts, she serves as the Fundraising Chair for SOLE Defined. She holds a Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies with a minor in Dance Education from The University of Georgia.

Carolina Do
Carolina Đỗ

Carolina Đỗ is a storyteller and community organizer. She is a first generation Việt born in America, the child of refugees and descendant of freedom fighters. Her work centers around community building, transgenerational healing, diasporic longings, and collective storytelling. She is a founding Artistic Leader of The Sống Collective whose mission is to nurture a community of artists whose work explores questions of identity, race, intersectionality, immigration, and the refugee experience. She’s an organizer with @Asians4Abolition. She’s spoken about abolition and the solidarity needed in the fight for liberation on numerous panels, including a recent one organized by the Dianne Morales mayoral campaign, alongside Jason Wu (GAPIMNY, Truth Out), Rohan Zhou-Lee (Blasian March), Linda Sarsour (Women’s March & Until Freedom), Frederick Joseph (NYT Bestselling Author of The Black Friend), Pastor Samuel Cruz , PhD (Trinity Lutheran Church), Moumita Ahmed (candidate for NYC Council District 24), Kei Williams (Black Lives Matter Global Network), Emerald Snipes (daughter of Eric Garner, sister of Erica Garner, founder of We Can’t Breathe).

Ishmael Thaahir
Ishmael Thaahir

Ishmael Thaahir earned his B.F.A. in Theatre from North Carolina A&T State University and is Assistant Director of Kyoung’s Pacific Beat’s NERO, where he is also Arts Management Fellow. When not working at KPB, he teaches theater with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children. Ishmael believes art is an invaluable component in community building. He aims to make theatrical arts accessible for children & young adults alike. When not working, Ishmael can be found reading, going on walks, and endlessly quoting memes.

Rohan Zhou-Lee
Rohan Zhou-Lee

Rohan Zhou-Lee (They/Siya/祂 (Tā)) is dancer, writer, and organizer. Previous credits include a soloist role in the Off-Broadway revival of Over Here! The Musical, West Side Story [New Bedford Festival Theatre,] and The Bluebird from Sleeping Beauty [Victoria Ballet Theatre.] They also trained at the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Ruth Page Center For the Arts. Their short act play, The Soldier’s Home, was produced in 2015 by Circa Pintig, Chicago’s premiere Filipino theatre company. Zhou-Lee is the founder of the Blasian March, a solidarity movement for Black, Asian and Blasian [mixed] communities through education on parallel struggles with racial injustice and mutual celebration. Independent of the Blasian March, they organised a rally for Asian American communities on February 20th with a team of women of color. Through the Blasian March, they have co-organised events to continue to uplift Black, Asian and Blasian communities. They hold a BA in Ethnomusicology from Northwestern University.


Whiteness on Fire: Where Are We Now?”
Thursday, February 25, 2021

Kyoung’s Pacific Beat, in partnership with GAPIMNY — Empowering Queer and Trans APIs — invites our community members to a sneak peak of NERO and a fishbowl conversation called “Whiteness on Fire: Where Are We Now?” facilitated by Joe Tolbert, Jr.

NERO is a “state of the nation” tragicomedy that invites Black, Indigenous and People of Color to examine how white male supremacy is the root of American Imperialism and how communities of color can take action through grass-roots collective actions to dismantle white supremacist ideology.


Whiteness on Fire: A Cultural Reconstruction”
Monday, October 5, 2020

BIPOC members of our community and our white allies are invited to join us online for an evening of art and social convening. This program features “Suck My Violin,” an original music video produced virtually during this pandemic, followed by an in depth conversation that shifts our current culture forward.