Jeanne workshops JIehae Park's HANNAH & THE DREAD GAZEBO at the 2013 Ojai Playwrights Conference

Jeanne workshops JIehae Park's HANNAH & THE DREAD GAZEBO at the 2013 Ojai Playwrights Conference

The cast of HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO at the 2013 Ojai Playwrights Festiival: CS Lee, Jeanne Sakata, Samantha Quan, Jackie Chung, Joy Osmanski, Raymond Lee

Such a great time up at the 2013 Ojai Playwrights Conferencel! It’s been two years since I was up there, and I was thrilled to return to workshop HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO, a new play by the gifted Jiehae Park, directed by the lovely May Adrales.  Jiehae has written a play that is hilarious, whimsical, dark, dangerous and above all, fresh and original.  A South Korean grandmother decides to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of her retirement home on the border of the North and South, only to end up jumping onto the wrong side, straight into the Demilitarized Zone.  The family descends into comic chaos to try to recover her body, but before the play’s over, there are ancient myths, tigers, bears, sweet potatoes, giant garic bulbs, gazebos, a magic stone in a bottle, and the ghost of Kim Jong Il to contend with.

Suffice it to say I had a blast playing Mom, not to mention getting to breathe in the fresh Ojai air AND the inspiration of the other amazing artists there, among them playwrights Luis Alfaro, Samuel Hunter, Lucy Alibar, David Weiner, Richard Cabral, Sean Lewis, Laura Schellhardt, and Alice Tuan, all working on new plays.  Our HANNAH reading had people laughing all throughout the play and jumping to their feet to applaud afterwards, AND clapping along to a surprise curtain call number when Raymond Lee whipped out a guitar and banged out a hip-hop song about sweet potatoes with all of us joining in.  Yup.  These are the days you live for as an actor. the special times when all you hope to experience in the theater somehow coalesces, and magic ensues.

And those are the days when you jump for joy, like we’re all doing in the photo above.  Thank you Jiehae, thank you May, thank you my crazy castmates Charlie, Samantha, Joy, Jackie and Raymond, and thank you Robert Egan and the entire staff of the Ojai Playwrights Festival.

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