#WriteChange: Hannah Yukon
Featuring recipients of DGF #WriteChange Scholarships
I met my biological mother 5 years ago for the first time since I was 12. I was 19 at the time. She found out that I was acting in production in Singapore and decided to come to the show that evening. However, she thought she would meet me before the show, right in the middle of our warm ups. The stage manager approached me and told me that a lady was looking for me outside in the parking lot. I thought it was the caterer for the cast dinner. I went outside and saw her standing there on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette. She saw me and called out to me using my Chinese name; she was the only person who did that. When she first saw me, she looked at me blankly and said, “Wha, someone’s getting fat”. I laughed. I didn’t know what else to do. For next 20 minutes she asked me about my life, where I was going to school at, and if I was still attending church. She told me about how she needed money. Throughout our whole interaction, I could only think about what a funny play this would make. I was taking mental notes about how she was speaking, her intonations, how violently she was exhaling her cigarette, the ebb and flow of our dialogue. I didn’t know much about playwriting then. It wasn’t until my first year at college that I started writing seriously. I learned throughout the next 4 years that playwriting was my output, my way to navigate this world. Every time I noticed something interesting or had an idea for a play I would take notes on napkins, on my phone, the back of my hands, anything that would help me remember that moment. I did this in my classes, at work, at school, on the bus, everywhere. My plays were produced twice at play festivals — this fueled me more.
Since then I enrolled in a graduate program at Clark University studying Community Development and Planning. In addition, I’ve been working as a Creative Director at various Worcester Public Schools creating and implementing literacy and theatre curriculum for elementary school English Language Learners. My worldview has altered significantly from this process. Not only has my input shifted in a way that allows me to draw upon the experiences from my students, it has also provided me with a platform to integrate my observations into theatrical writing. Most importantly, my writing has given me an outlet to critically look at societal issues in my community. Writing lets me talk about political issues in a way that I would otherwise find hard to do. Playwright Maria Irene Fornes once said that if you want to write a political play, you first have to live the politics. Then, you can write a play about a rock, and it will still be political. I find myself learning about the politics and living through them with the students who I teach.
Hence, as an artist and teacher, I understand the inherent benefits of writing as a medium for growth and expression. I feel that it is my purpose to help see this powerful medium become more accessible to students who might not be able to find meaning in otherwise rigid academic settings. I have benefitted from writing immensely and hope that my students will continue to find strength from writing their lives and experiences, and being able to draw strength and solidarity from the process.
Hannah Yukon is a woman of color. She writes about her experiences and observations while navigating the nebulous nature of human interactions. She is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Community Development and Planning at Clark University. She also directs, teaches, babysits, and makes guacamole.
The Dramatists Guild Fund awarded ten writers from across the country with DGF #WriteChange Scholarships. The $500 scholarships will help dramatists offset the cost of travel for attending one of the largest conferences for American dramatists. The Dramatists Guild’s National Conference in La Jolla, CA July 16 -19, hosts educational programing and networking opportunities with hundreds of writers from across the country.
Ten dramatists were selected from over 80 applications. Recipients of DGF scholarships hail from California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Washington D.C.