CAT LADY

by Kristina Wong

CA

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CAT LADY is an interdisciplinary performance blending the parallel worlds of two pathetically lonely personas living at the margins of gender and society—musty cat ladies and fast-talking male pick-up artists. This multi-media theater piece incorporates the psychology behind hoarding (both of animals and humans), pick-up artist techniques, anecdotes from unmarried women who live alone with cats (“cat ladies”), and my attempts to simultaneously end racism and get my cat to stop spraying.  CAT LADY premieres in March 2011 in Houston, TX in Diverseworks and later in November 2011 at ODC Theater in San Francisco.  Finishing support is needed for rehearsals and final production costs so that this work can premiere at the highest caliber possible and can continue to tour beyond the premiere. 

 

CAT LADY is one of the greatest challenges yet in my creative career as my first ever full-length ensemble piece; I will anchor the performance, but will collaborate with an ensemble of three actors and director Shawn Sides.  My body of work over the last ten years has primarily been solo performance about social issues, making this the first time I’ve written and collaborated with other actors to create a much more existential and thematically challenging work. CAT LADY first seems to be about my failed attempts to stop my cat Oliver from spraying, but soon opens into larger examinations of humans as awkward actors within the food chain, painting the growing disconnect between human beings and their animal instincts in a pixelizing world. 

Other themes that surface intermittently in the show will be domestic violence, verbally and physically abusive relationships (between humans and not), and relearning the art of human communication.  I am particularly interested in working with performers and community members who come from marginalized identities who might identify with to the themes of “performing identity” also present in this work.

 

CAT LADY comes appropriately on the heels of my last project.  In 2006 I created “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to address depression and suicide among Asian American women.   The process of making the show was the most heartbreaking and depressing endeavor I had ever taken up.  The last four years of touring alone on the road have been some of the most isolating years of my life, but simultaneously gave me a “real artist” identity I never had before.  In my isolation at home and on the road, I read Neil Strauss’  “The Game” and started watching “The Pick-Up Artist” reality competition show which piqued my interest in the subculture of male pick-up artists—their trainings, conferences, their terminology and the hierarchy of respect among them.   It seems that their culture and its infrastructure was as bizarrely idiosyncratic as the politics of the theater world. 

 

There were so many parallels between my life as a lonely solo performer and that of pick-up artists. Their (morally questionable) techniques and (manipulative) seduction tools seems plucked straight from improv theater training.  Like me, they used their “scripts” on audiences to escape the reality of their loneliness (theirs scripts were performed in bars, mine in theaters).  Like aspiring artists are taught to “own your avatar until you become it,” I was doing my show so much, I was becoming the character from my show-- conversations from real life flowed into my real life monologues. Perhaps, it was only inside our scripts that we could achieve human connection. CAT LADY is a departure from earlier work like Cuckoo’s Nest that directly tackled social issues, and instead moves necessarily towards a more theatrical, explorative direction, spring boarding appropriately forward from where my last project left me—in complete existential crises from having tried to save the world with theater.

 

CAT LADY has endured a two-year research period where I’ve interviewed pick-up artists, cat psychics, learned pick-up artist technique and done a great deal of writing on the difficulties of human interaction.  I created a work-in-progress at the REDCAT in 2008.  I’ve also shown a work in progress at the Hothouse Residency for Artists at UCLA.  The work has evolved dramatically to what I am creating now.

I am working with an ensemble of three amazing actors (Drag legend Miss Barbie Q, Clayton Shane Farris and Jabez Zuniga) who will become fluent in pick-up artist technique as part of our rehearsal process.  During our community outreach activities on tour, we will train participants of all gender identifications in our own version of Pick-Up artist bootcamp (think of it as a warped reverse Drag school).  We will incorporate these community members in our pre-show.  

 

I am also working for the first time with director Shawn Sides of The Rude Mechs in Austin, TX who recently directed a play at the Humana Festival.  Our cross-country collaboration has been worth Shawn’s amazing eye in directing ensemble work and her physically dynamic direction. 

 

Raising $5000 will help me cover costs related to rehearsals before we tour, including paying for rehearsal space and offering honorariums for the dramaturg, actors, and director. If I can raise more, I will be able to pay the costume designer, lighting designer, video designer and set designer.

 

 

 

 

 

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    • March 07, 2011 Diana Toshiko Community Member

      Yay baby b! Link to www.toshikophoto.com holla!

    • March 06, 2011 May Lee-Yang Community Member

      You're one of the hardest working artists I know. Keep doing your thing!

    • February 27, 2011 Ricki Vincent Community Member

      Congrats

    • February 14, 2011 Angela Adams Community Member

      I hope you have a wonderful time doing these shows and that you are surrounded by lots of love, food, fun, and rewards!

    • January 14, 2011 Chrisnlily Lopez Community Member

      Kristina Wong we think your amazing... We'll see you in March!

    • December 30, 2010 Tammy Gomez Artist

      Kristina, i'm not only a bicycling performance artist, but i am one of those single cat (3 at the moment) ladies, and i have to insist that i am not musty. kudos on raising funds so perkily, quickly! Oh, we were at the same table at Gilley's honky-tonk, devouring bbq and free beer. at NPN. next time, we talk.

    • December 24, 2010 Julie Kahn Community Member

      Go Cat Lady! Love, Julie Kahn

    • December 22, 2010 Katie Pearl & Lisa D'Amour Artist

      I am so proud of Kristina Wong making this project! Love it, love her!!

    • December 22, 2010 Linda Community Member

      Kristina is ridiculously courageous, generous, hilarious, and talented and works her butt off to boot.

    • December 22, 2010 Leebs Goya Community Member

      Purrific! Much meow to you and Oliver.

    • December 15, 2010 Kennedy Kabasares Artist

      Hey, Kristina, please link to Visual Communications - www.vconline.org

    • December 15, 2010 Amy Anderson Community Member

      You can link to my website: www.AmyAnderson.net You RULE Kristina Wong!! xo

    • December 15, 2010 Nadine Sehnert Community Member

      Kristina is a true artist, putting her heart, sweat and intelligence into all of her projects. Glad to support this new one!

    • December 15, 2010 anida yoeu ali Artist

      we are huge fans of your work. you've been so generous over the years gifting us with so many hand sewn goodies. the pledge us from all of us: Masa, Minara and soon to be Baby Q.

    • December 14, 2010 Colleen Kane Community Member

      Yay! I already have several items Kristina made instead of smoking crack, so I will defer on the cat so she will have more time to create more ART!

    • December 14, 2010 Jenny Yang Community Member

      yeeeaaah!