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Haunting Ghosts and Intergenerational Care as Remediation in Haruna Lee’s Suicide Forest

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2023, 36(2), pp.121-145
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : July 2, 2023
  • Accepted : August 7, 2023
  • Published : August 31, 2023

Dohyun Shin 1

1뉴욕시립대학교 대학원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In Suicide Forest (2020), the playwright Haruna Lee summons erotic and grotesque caricatures from their diasporic memories as a Taiwanese-Japanese- American child: a crawling salaryman with a ball gag, a marionette-like schoolgirl, twin girls in lolita costumes played by aging performers, a ghostly butoh dancer in a red kimono, and Japan’s actual Suicide Forest. In this article, I explore how Lee’s Suicide Forest can be interpreted as a restorative performance, a concept by Soyica Diggs Colbert, Douglas A. Jones Jr., and Shane Vogel. Instead of reiterating Richard Schechner’s use of restoration in his term “restored behavior,” the authors seek alternative senses of “restoration” in performance: to repair and care—in particular, for artists and audiences of color. Using the term restorative performance, I explore how Lee’s resurrection of erotic and grotesque Japanese figures from the 1990s in this play does not result in a masochistic repetition of their painful memories. Instead, Lee describes Suicide Forest as a play that acknowledges stereotypical tropes of Japanese/American people and deconstructs them. In this way, the forest, acting as Lee’s personal Asian American psychic space, becomes a place for possible remediation. At the end of this painfully repetitive phantasmagoria, Lee delivers the idea of restorative care in the forest through the actors hugging each other, an act which symbolizes the embrace of the intergenerational Japanese/American community.

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