Theater and Performance Studies BA Projects

Kenjiro Lee

Artistic Project: Untitled

Public Event: Screening of Untitled with Q&A
Friday, May 15th 6:30pm (CST) — Zoom link here

Biographical Statement
Kenjiro Lee is a 4th year Political Science major from New Jersey. His primary interest is in playwriting, but he also dabbles in directing, puppetry, design, and performance. Kenjiro has had his work produced at the University of Chicago, Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater, and the Kraine Theatre in New York City.

Artistic Statement
Two years ago I was in a Playwrights of Color class taught by Jess McLeod. One of the plays we read was Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith. This was one of the most intriguing plays to me: I was amazed by how it combined interviews conducted by Smith herself into a full performance, attempting to represent ideas and opinions from a diverse set of people in one place to provide an all-encompassing piece. What surprised me, however, was that everyone in the class hated it. The central problem was the question of diversity: Twilight, and really the documentary theater format as a whole, doesn’t neatly fit into modern ideas of representation in theater, especially when it comes to the portrayal of races different from the actor’s. This play is the first workshop presentation of an experimental theater project that asks “What is it like being a person of color in the theater world?” In the future, I hope to address further questions like “What is the responsibility of a theater maker in telling someone else’s story?”

Prior to the pandemic, this presentation was intended to be part-lecture, part recorded audio, and part live performance, using multiple actors to portray both me and the people I interviewed. It has been adapted into a short, approximately 30-minute film that condenses nearly 3 hours of recorded audio into a series of ideas presented via actual recordings, my own performance, and my thoughts on the subject matter. It is not a finished product, and it is not the project I initially set out to make. Yet it is as close to what I intended as is possible under the circumstances.

Artistic Project