Two years ago LKL thoroughly enjoyed the debut showing of a play by Korean adoptee writer In-Sook Chappell. This Isn’t Romance tells the story (not autobiographical) of a Korean adoptee returning to Seoul to track down her family. It’s a moving and emotionally charged play which is at times disturbing as well.
Chappell’s play has now been adapted for radio – with the same lead actors as the stage performances. You can catch it on BBC Radio 3 tomorrow night, 29 January, at 9:30pm. It’s been slightly edited down to one hour to fit the radio schedules. I’ll certainly be listening in to hear how it compares to the stage version.
From the BBC website:
Miso Blake ….. Jennifer Lim
Han ….. Mo Zainal
Jack ….. Matthew Marsh
Naomi/Miss Han ….. Sonnie Brown
Bunny/Waitress ….. Elizabeth Tan
Ajossi ….. Jay Lim
Director Lisa Goldman
In-Sook Chappell says:
“This story addresses what faces immigrants and asylum seekers when they return to the country of their birth. I was born in Korea and adopted into an English family. The inspiration for the play came on a visit back to Seoul. Unable to speak Korean, I was a foreigner in the country I was born in. I had lost my language, my country and my family. The sound of Korean upset me, stirred feelings I had as a baby that I’d forgotten. I met a lot of adoptees searching for their biological families, only communicating with them through an interpreter. I decided not to track down my family. Instead I spoke to some who had, then I imagined and wrote this play. On a visit to an orphanage, I met a little boy aged 4 who had been left on the street by his parents. If I had been in a better financial situation I would have adopted him. He was the starting point for Han. Growing up in England I always thought; What if I had stayed in Korea, grown up in an orphanage; would I have ended up a teenage prostitute or a factory worker? I had a strong sense of guilt for living a privileged life in England. In cross-cultural adoption, we rarely talk about what happens when the children grow up, what they lose as well as gain. The sounds of this play evoke emotions and memories, a sense of dislocation, of being thrown into another world; the alienation of hearing another language clearly spoken with passion and love, but incomprehensible and impossible to respond to.”