THIS WEEK’S TWEAKS at The Infinite Wrench ~ July 21–23: “SAYING GOOD-BYE TO JEEWON”
“This Week’s Tweaks” is The Neo-Futurist’s weekly update on the ongoing & ever-changing THE INFINITE WRENCH, a live mechanism to unleash a barrage of two-minute plays for the present audience. Check in every week for updates on the new plays and rotating Neo-Futurist ensemble members.
(Written by Ida Cuttler)
It hasn’t fully hit us yet, but it is going to feel strange when the months and months go by and we don’t see those capitalized initials on our Tuesday scripts. We’ll miss you, JK.
Approximately five minutes after I met Jeewon Kim, I asked him to shave someone’s legs. It was a task for a monologue that I had written and that I was going to perform as part of a student showing during a fundraiser for the theater. This was October (I think) 2014: just a month or so before both of us were going to audition to be cast in the company. I’m pretty sure I gave Jeewon little to no instructions: Here’s a razor. There’s a stranger’s leg. This is your cue…Ready? Okay. Jeewon was a pro, no human blood was shed, the Neos raised money, the evening was truly an artistic success.
The piece Jeewon performed that night was about his name. He addressed the audience in a way that would later become signature: listening just as much as communicating to the audience, with grace and a hint of sassy. The piece was about his name but also about patience. Patience with one another’s differences; the admirable work of meeting people where they are at while simultaneously standing with two firm feet in what’s important to you, and your own identity. I watched this person I had just met perform this, while standing in the dark, from the prop shelf. I got teary. Little did I know, I would spend the next three years, in that same spot by the prop shelf, getting teary, listening and watching, thankful to occupy the same space on this planet that this kind, humble, human does.
The next milestone in Jeewon and my friendship was when he drove me all the way to Pilsen to get a wooden island table for my new apartment. Jeewon is like that. If he can do something for you - he will: One time I slept at his house when I lost my backpack and it was raining, One time I slept at his house when I lost my keys and it was raining, One time I took a nap at his house, and he lent me clothes because my clothes got wet, because it was raining. In the car on the way to Pilsen, we talked about the show; what we were looking forward to, what we were afraid of. I remember Jeewon told me he wanted to write a play that involved the scent of axe body spray, and it would be about middle school sports (Jeewon! You never did this! You can’t leave! You can’t leave until you do this! ) During this ride I also learned about Jeewon’s job as a teacher, and about this dude he met, Jeremy, who, at that point, he had just begun seeing. (Did you hear? They are getting married now.) I was struck by Jeewon’s passion and commitment to these students and his sense of fun and positive attitude about doing the work of education, especially in Chicago. I was keenly aware of our contrast: I had lived in my apartment for months at that point and only right then was getting it furnished, I had just ended a relationship and I couldn’t believe how well Jeewon was balancing his life, and his art, and his career and everything else.
This week in the show, Trevor has a play where he compares Jeewon to a swiss army knife:
“Elegant, versatile, and handy in a street fight.” I agree with this assessments of Jeewon’s traits and acumen, but I have always thought of Jeewon’s totem inanimate object to be more of a metal wine bottle opener. Sharp, can break through cork, but also has these long shiny handles that makes the whole thing look like a jumping man clapping his hands above his head. There is a huge surge of joy that I have when I am around Jeewon Kim. Jeewon took me to my first Musical Monday at Sidetrack. He has parties, and barbecues and dance moves. Jeewon is a wine bottle opener because, while you can cut anything with a knife, a wine bottle opener has a specific purpose,and Jeewon is one of the most deliberate and efficient artists I know (and also because one time on stage he drank an entire bottle of wine). It’s what makes him such a gift to work with, and to be around.
If Jeewon is a wine bottle opener than I am a…a….a….what’s a kitchen utensil that is kind of random and rambly and has worked four different odd jobs over two years and leaves cookie wrappers in the pockets of artistic director sweatshirts who lent you said sweatshirt because you forgot your own for the 500th time in a row (Sorry, again, Kurt)? I am about to be 25 this Sunday and guess what? It’s not cute. I’m working on it. I’m trying to learn from Jeewon. I’ve noticed how in our fast paced show, Jeewon is always someone who is patient. He’ll take the time in rehearsal to make sure the slide-image comes out on the projectors, spends extra time coaching me like a little league dad to improve my angle in a play where I have to throw pudding at him. In his “Spot the Homosexual” he calmly demonstrated Werq choreography and answers questions to people getting frustrated. Anyone who has seen Jeewon’s art can tell you: It pays off.
This is Jeewon’s last show weekend. On the 31st he moves to Philadelphia. Philadelphia is so, so so lucky to be getting such a human. I wish he wasn’t leaving, because while he’s taught me a lot, I feel I still have so much more to learn. And I know I will. I know down the road he’ll take me into his big wine bottle opener arms, bounce up and down, and we’ll pick up where we left off. Until then, like Jeewon: I’ll be patient.
<<This Week’s Cast, Plays and Tweaks>>
Cast: Ida Cuttler, Trevor Dawkins, Jeewon Kim, Kirsten Riiber, Kyra Sims, Malic White, Lisa Buscani. (with Taylor Fenderbosch on tech)
Play Count: 10 NEW (TOTAL: 9979 since 1988). ~ His Way (LB) ~ Mourners Gather at the Trumpcare Funeral (LB) ~ BRASSTOOS (KS) ~ The Contrarian (MW) ~ Won’t Forget, Can’t Regret (JK) ~ D.A.R.E. Made Me Gay, or Thank you very much for suggesting that we reinstate this illustrious educational program, Jeff Sessions!(MW) ~ One last thing before you leave (KR) ~ Viking Funeral (TD) ~ Slo-Mo Dropbox (TD) ~ Predictive Text Message Farewell (IC)
Tweaks: 30 PLAYS and 4WRENCHES ~ Plays labelled according to their place in the Total Play Count, written and accumulated since 1988, timed with a cumbersome device.