BWW Interview: Vichet Chum and LOVE for the Ice Factory Festival from 8/15-8/18 at New Ohio Theatre in NYC
Vichet Chum has an upcoming show at this year's Ice Factory Festival called LOVE. The two-hander is written and performed by Chum and Laura Gragtmans. Chum is a writer, actor, director & theater maker, originally from Dallas, Texas and now living in New York City. His plays have been workshopped at the New Harmony Project, Second Generation Productions, Weston Playhouse, Florida State University, Cleveland Public Theatre, All For One Theater and Amios. Most recently, his play KNYUM had its world premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in January 2018. He's a proud graduate of the University of Evansville (BFA) and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company (MFA). Learn more at vichetchum.com.
Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Vichet Chum about his background, career and the upcoming show.
Tell us about your earliest interest in theatre and the performing arts.
When I was in second grade, I was wrangled into participating in a high school production of The Sound of Music. My mother made me purple lederhosen, and I looked like the most divine Cambodian-Austrian that ever was. The bug bit, and I've been hooked ever since.
Is there anyone in particular who guided your career?
Every teacher that I've encountered - from elementary to graduate school - has had a profound impact on the trajectory of my career. I wasn't a traditionally successful student; I was way more concerned with choir or theatre rehearsal after school. I was fortunate to be seen in that way by several educators who continued to push me towards what felt most authentic.
I am also forever indebted to the gifted and beloved Ken Washington, the former Company Development Director at the Guthrie Theatre. Ken fostered the talents of many young professionals, and I was fortunate to spend a summer with him as part of A Guthrie Experience for (MFA) Actors in Training. Thereafter, he'd send me plays and checked in with me to see how my work was coming along. He was a special man and adored by many. I look back at that time and can clearly point at how profound his impact was on my professional career.
What inspired LOVE?
I love love, and in 2018, I think we can all afford leaning in. New York City can get a bad rap for being difficult and a little ruthless. In truth, as I move through a day in this city, I'm keenly aware of how many moments of love and connection I experience. The play is born from that impulse. In LOVE, we follow two people as they go through the gradient experience of love and watch them gloriously fumble, stumble and make a mess in their pursuits.
What are the challenges of both writing and performing your own show?
The greatest challenge of fulfilling dual roles is knowing when to put your writer hat on and when to put your actor hat on. Sometimes you need to literally change the words on the page, and sometimes you need to dig deeper into the motivations and intentions of the character. It can be easy to confuse the two.
We'd like to know a little about working with Laura Gragtmans in this two hander.
I've known Laura Gragtmans since we both attended the University of Evansville back in the day. We've always shared a similar outlook on life and art, and so the creation of this story has been pretty intuitive. Laura writes with such specificity of voice and character, and I am constantly in pursuit of inventive ways to tell a story. Laura is also utilizing her talents as a singer/songwriter to help find the musical vocabulary of the show as well. We're working together to find the most creative, most authentic, most inspired story possible.
What would you like audiences to know about LOVE?
Simply said, it's a tribute to love and New York City. In its specificity of following these two characters and the people they collide with throughout the day, it attempts to be a part of a greater tapestry of humanity. If you look closely enough, you can find love in micro moments, and in a time that feels increasingly divided, LOVE attempts to give a case for connectivity.
For the future?
We hope LOVE will have a future beyond this moment, but we're taking things one step at a time.
Anything else, absolutely anything you want our BWW readers to know.
Buy your tickets for LOVE. Pretty, pretty please.
The Guest Curator for the LOVE is Second Generation Productions. The show runs August 15 - 18 at New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St.). Performances are Wednesdays to Saturdays at 7pm. Tickets are $20 and $16 for students. Purchase at http://newohiotheatre.org/ or by calling 212-352-3101.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vichet Chum