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Soho Rep to Present New York Premiere of WOLF PLAY

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Postponed from March 2020, Wolf Play, in a since-updated staging, asks poignant questions about live theater’s capacity to change us and what we think we see.

Soho Rep to Present New York Premiere of WOLF PLAY

Soho Rep, in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company, will present Hansol Jung's Wolf Play, a mischievous and affecting new work about the families we choose and unchoose, directed by Dustin Wills, February 2-March 6. When a young South Korean boy-represented onstage as a puppet operated by a "wolf"-is "re-homed" via a website chat room, he and his brand-new parents (a professional boxer, Ash, and Ash's wife, Robin) undergo the strange, fraught process of becoming a family. Postponed from March 2020, Wolf Play, in a since-updated staging, asks poignant questions about live theater's capacity to change us and what we think we see.

A "sense of being unmoored affects the characters [Jung] writes about," American Theater notes of the playwright, who was born in South Korea, spent part of her childhood in South Africa, returned to South Korea, before moving to New York in 2010. With a rivetingly unpredictable sense of theatrical invention, Jung (Wild Goose Dreams, Among the Dead, Cardboard Piano) has explored experiences of displacement across cultural, national, digital, and political realities.

Wolf Play was inspired by a series of articles Jung read in Reuters in 2013 and 2014 about Americans using "Yahoo message boards, Facebook groups and other online sites to 're-home' unwanted children"-most commonly international adoptees. Re-homing was again spotlit in 2020 in the harrowing story of YouTube stars Myka and James Stauffer giving away the son they adopted from China. As The Atlantic wrote in 2018 on the subject of "re-homing," "between 1 and 5 percent of U.S. adoptions get legally dissolved each year."

Jung says, "I've always been interested in stories of departure and landing and the liminal spaces in between and was considering what roots a person to a place and to other people within it. And how do people make family when the idea of it is no longer bound by a traditional sense of biological family?" She considered how "in the queer community, people talk a lot about 'chosen family'-in terms of how you create your own community and who you decide your family is." The resulting work asks emotionally messy questions about what family truly means-how to attain it, and who is allowed to have it.

In Wolf Play, these investigations open into a question of how the theatrical form can change our perceptions-and how far it can send our imaginations. The playwright adds, "In this play, I'm also asking what we get from the community and collectivity of theater: you suspended your disbelief after you came here and sat there with all these other people; how has it affected your life? When you see the struggles characters are going through-homophobia, state laws surrounding queer adoption [which states could determine until 2017], and displacement, alienation, and unbelonging as factors of international adoption-did it maybe help you process the hurdles in your own life? Did it change something in the way you regard your own struggles, and others'?"

The title figure in Jung's script-an actor playing a wolf animating a human child puppet-makes an immediate demand on our imaginations. "It's about agreeing to imagine the terms that someone has set forth for you, that may be true for them, and allowing yourself to take in another's experience," says Wills.

The director adds, "Because a puppet breaks down the essential functions of a human being and engages our imagination in filling in the rest, the puppet in the play becomes markedly more human-and the adults seem more like feral animals. I'm interested here in how basic animal instincts like love and survival are always vibrating underneath our socialized selves."

Wolf Play's cast features Esco Jouléy as Ash, Brandon Mendez Homer as Ryan, Aubie Merrylees as Peter, Nicole Villamil as Robin, and Mitchell Winter as Wolf. The creative team includes You-Shin Chen (Scenic Design), Enver Chakartash (Costume Design), Barbara Samuels (Lighting Design), Kate Marvin (Sound Design), Amanda Villalobos (Puppet Design), Lake Simons (Puppet Coach), and J. David Brimmer (Fight Director). Stage management includes A.K. Howard (Stage Manager) and Eliza Anastasio (Assistant Stage Manager).

Performance Schedule and Ticketing

Wolf Play runs February 2-March 6 at Soho Rep, located at 46 Walker Street in Manhattan.

The production opens officially on the night of February 14.

Tickets-$35 general-can be purchased by visiting sohorep.org or calling 646-586-8982. $30 general rush and $20 student rush (with a valid school ID) tickets are available at the box office 30 minutes prior to curtain for each performance. $0.99 Sunday tickets will be offered Feb 20, 27, and March 6 at 7:30pm. They are available first come, first served at the box office only. There are no advance sales for Rush or $0.99 Sunday tickets.


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