Twist of Fate started as a simple idea this past January: create a show by bringing together two cultures—suburban American teenagers and teenage KaRen refugees from Burma.
Fast forward eight months, one grant, six weeks of rehearsals, endless hours of translation, multiple rewrites, fights, tears, a dozen donated bicycles, 30 pounds of rice, mosquitoes, and lots of laughs, and you have Twist of Fate. Working on this show has been one of the most rewarding, frustrating, frightening, exciting, and impossible experiences I’ve ever had as a director. How do you write a show for two groups of strangers, with little shared language, various levels of experience, and from cultures on opposite sides of the world?
We started by telling each other our stories. What was a time you laughed really hard? How about a time you were really sad? If you had to leave tomorrow, what would you miss the most? What would you miss the least? What’s your favorite food? When were you really scared? The answers were equal parts hilarious, heartbreaking, bizarre, and unbelievable:
A time I was scared?
"I saw a movie and had nightmares for weeks."
"I was hunting frogs near a graveyard and was chased by a ghost that was only a head and a stomach."
"I'm scared of my fat aunt."
"Soldiers came to my village and shot my aunt in her neck and her stomach."
Through movement—dancing, playing games, improvising—it became very clear right away that being physical broke down things like language barriers or cultural differences. Music did the same thing. And throughout the process,there was a focus on doing a lot with a little. One of the central ideas behind the project was to use our and the audience’s imagination instead of stuff. No set. Minimal costumes. Only the most basic props. If we needed an environment, we could create it ourselves through physicality and sound.
And then we began to put it all together. Pieces of script would be brought in, hashed out, read, rehearsed, thrown out, reconfigured, brought back from the dead. Scenes were created, dances and movement were rehearsed. And through it all, we all navigated the strange waters we were traveling together. There were fights, frustrations, breakthroughs, celebrations, and explorations—all the elements of a good adventure. And so our process of making the show became woven into the show itself.
Twist of Fate is a little show with a lot of heart. The 20 teenagers who have created it have invested in the show, themselves, their history, and each other, and it shows onstage. The laughter is real. The stories are real. The awkwardness is real. The camaraderie is real.
The show is real. And we'd love you to see it.
Twist of Fate is being presented at Mixed Blood Theatre through August 12 as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.
1501 S. 4th St.
1501 S. 4th St.