Monday, June 18, 2012

BACT History: Spotlight on - Creative

Min Kahng has been working with BACT since 2008. As you can see below, he wears many hats for the company. We love working with Min for his dedication, creativity, and well rounded approach to theater and everything he does. Below are his thoughts on working with BACT as a writer and director of the YEP Teen program. 
BACT: You have been involved with BACT in many different capacites - YEP Teen Program Director, Marketing Coordinator, Writer/Composer - is there one you enjoy most? Any reason? 

Min: That's a tough one to answer because there's obviously an aspect to each of these that I enjoy - otherwise I wouldn't be doing it.  The writing/composing is probably the most exciting right now because I get to create and introduce something new into greater landscape of theater.  I get to make my mark, however big or small it is, with my own story and style. I find that very empowering and energizing.

BACT: What aspect of a musical production do you enjoy the most (working with the kids on the singing, playing the music? etc) 

Min: I think I ultimately enjoy when all the pieces come together and work to effectively tell the story. For me, you can have great singing, acting and dancing, but that does not lend itself to great storytelling. I never want to lose track of the heart of the story I'm trying to tell. I love being able to find those moments with these children and shift their focus from self-focused performance to collaborative storytelling.

BACT: What aspect do you think the kids enjoy the most?

Min: The obvious answer is that kids love to put on shows for their friend and families.  But there are also kids who understand the gratification of getting better at their craft, whether it be acting, singing, dancing or stagecraft. There are also kids who might be more shy and reserved who I've seen come out of their shell. They gain confidence and find that they have something to contribute to the production, and I believe they find this very gratifying, which is why they return to our program.

BACT: Have you written many original works before?

Min: Yes.  In college I wrote a series of skits and short plays for a performing group I was a part of. I've also written many original songs that could be classified as pop pieces.  Basically, there hasn't been a period in my life when I wasn't creating something.  My first musical project was a 30-minute high school video project in which I adapted Nathanial Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter."  My first full-length musical was called "The Plans of Theodore Crumb," and I literally produced it with no budget by asking friends to pitch-in and make it happen.  However, my first serious musical theatre project is called "The Nightingale" based upon the Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale of the same name.  This show had a staged reading in November 2010 and is slated for a possible local production in 2013.

BACT: Your show Tales of Olympus: A Greek Myth Musical - is making its world premiere next season. What are some of the challenges with writing a play geared toward children versus adults? Is one more fun?

Min: There are certainly some aspects where writing for children is easier.  Children are more willing to take imaginative leaps with a play, so if I all of a sudden announce that we are flying off to Mount Olympus, kids will follow that without a blink.  Adults need a lot more exposition and explanation of the fantasy of a story, so we can process it and figure out how it works. Perhaps the most difficult thing about writing a work for children is speaking at their level without "dumbing it down." When children are talked down to, they can sense it and the work immediately gets relegated into "baby" stuff.

BACT: Do you get nervous when starting work on one of your own shows?
No. I love the concept work behind a show.  I would say my process is two-pronged. There's the free-thinking side of it where ideas will come to me on the fly while I'm driving or just going about my day. I'll try to write these down or record them as I go. Then there's the methodical process where I will sit down and pull together those loose ideas and put it through a rigorous outline.  I follow outlines lined out by Aaron Frankel's "Writing the Broadway Musical" and Lajos Egri's "The Art of Dramatic Writing" to help me establish the heart of the show and the hearts of its characters. It's hard work, but it's a lot of fun.
Actually, what I think makes me most nervous is when I actually have to present what I've worked on to others, because up until that point I work in a bubble. It's tough when that bubble is penetrated by others who I am now giving permission to comment and critique.  It's necessary, but it always puts me on edge to have someone scrutinize my "babies."

BACT: Thank you so much, Min, for your thoughtful answers. We love working with you in all aspects, and we can’t wait for Tales of Olympus!

Friday, June 8, 2012

EBCF Mission Accomplished!

Thanks to You, 

We’ve Matched Our EBCF Challenge Grant!

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped us match our $8,000 challenge grant from the East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF)! With your generous support, children in the East Bay and beyond will have the opportunity to learn more about Greek mythology!

We are deeply honored to receive an EBCF matching grant for the second year in a row, and we could not have succeeded without the enthusiastic support of families and friends who enjoy our shows and understand the importance of the arts for children. Thank you, all!

The EBCF grant is awarded as part of the East Bay Fund for Artists matching grant program to support artists in the Bay Area, engage the community, and create new works for East Bay audiences and organizations.

BACT will use the grant to develop Tales of Olympus: A Greek Myth Musical, with book, music, and lyrics by BACT artistic associate Min Kahng of Castro Valley. The new play will be an upbeat romp that will introduce children to the intriguing adventures of ancient Greek gods and goddesses, both familiar and obscure.

Tales of Olympus: A Greek Myth Musical will open December 8 at Berkeley Rep’s new Osher Theatre, adjacent to Freight & Salvage, before going on tour to local schools in January and February, with support from the Clorox Company Foundation.