Endlings: A Shelfish Exploration

I don’t like to read too much about a play before I see it. I approach books the same way. I like to know the basics and then go in blind. So, I knew that Endlings was about fisherwomen who free dive off a small island in South Korea. I was intrigued. Not only because their workforce is becoming extinct but also because I love stories about how anything is sourced especially food. I also knew a familiar face in the play. Emily Kuroda of Gilmore Girls. Lastly, I knew that the American Repertory Theatre would do something very creative with the sets.

I sat down in front of a cliff. Settled in and looked up to the sky and rock of a faraway place whose story seems as unreal as the haenyeo themselves.

From the first dawn (the lighting really took me out of Harvard Square to the middle of the ocean) to the last dusk, I was sucked in.

Emily Kuroda and Wai Ching Ho in Endlings. Photo: GretjenHelene.com

This was a play sort of about the women who dive every day of their g-dforsaken lives, but it was really about a selfish (and I mean this in the most positive and deeply respectful way) exploration into the playwrights story of identity and taking up her own piece of real estate in this world.

They say that by 2045 the United Stated will become minority white. Our culture though will remain white privileged for much much longer. All you have to do is listen to any news story on any given day to see how messed up and strong that power is. If you can somehow tune all that out and focus in, you will start to see individuals claiming their small part of the territory and demanding to be seen and heard on their own terms and in the context of their own story.

The cast of Endlings. Photo: GretjenHelene.com

Celine Song‘s work is something I crave because it is personal. I can’t relate to everything in Song’s life but I can relate to each dimension of Endlings. It doesn’t look like it, but I too am an immigrant and I too am always seeking my piece of real estate in this world. This is something all people have in common. However close to the penthouse we are born ultimately, we all leave home and have to find out own piece of space. I don’t just mean a house but I mean a place in our communities, our workspace, and our society as a whole.

Jiehae Park and Wai Ching Ho in Endlings. Photo: GretjenHelene.com

The other thing we all have in common is a place in our families that is assigned to us that may be just as strong as the boxes society packs us in. That spot is a lot harder to change and is an even more powerful part of our stories.

If you get a chance, somewhere, somehow try to see Endlings.

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