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Take a Look at Two People on a Park Bench Talking About Birds in The Aves

New works being explored at Alley Theatre
New works being explored at Alley Theatre
Festival art

It's a story told in the near future and starts with two people sitting on a bench. In the space of about an hour, the audience will have the chance to find out what concerns these two.

The Aves, part of the Alley's All New Festival going on now, is a story born of quietness and contemplation, written by up and coming playwright Jiehae Park. As a reading, not a full scale production, it gives audiences a chance to see a work in progress, Park the opportunity to see how her words on the page translate as they are spoken aloud, and the Alley and other theater companies a look to help them decide if this is something they'd consider producing. Alley's Artisitc Director Rob Melrose is directing.

The setting is summer. The two characters are an old man and old woman. The subjects seem simple, but on further examination not. Of course.

The idea for this play first came to Park during a retreat she was on. She didn't write the play there — she says she "did a bunch of bad writing that I threw out" but the process of going there and working in quiet surroundings affected her. She used the quiet time there, she says, to "purge all the bad stuff that was in my uppermost layer of consciousness." When she got back to  New York City she thought of a man she used to see sitting on a bench in the park across from her former apartment. "Those two things together resulted in this play."

While beginning her career as an actor, Park wrote a play during her undergrad years and thought that was it. As she grew older, however, she began to think she had more thoughts to share with an audience. The play she wrote after that earned her some grants and recognition.

Born in Korea, she lived till she was 10 years old on Long Island before moving to a suburb of Washington, DC. She went to grad school in California and then moved back to New York ten years ago.

Park, who was very circumspect about The Ave's plot, says: "It loosely tracks the changing of the seasons over a year and it follows this one couple. And some people whose lives intersect with theirs.  It tracks the relationships of this one older couple over the course of a year as the season changes and their relationship changes. " The one-act runs about an hour, she says.

She says she selected the name of the play both because it's another word for birds and also because it's related to "awe" as in Ave Maria, "a connotation of awe and wonder."

Asked who she thought The Aves would appeal to, she says "If people are interested in that same quiet kind of attention that I am, if they're craving something that's a little bit more still and asks of them a certain kind of stillness in relation to that piece, ... people have usethe word 'meditative' in regards to it, althought there is stuff happening.

"If you want a loud musical this is probably not the piece for you."

"I do think the play is really funny in unexpected ways. And I think it’s my grappling with big questions of aging and mortality and identity, a lot of it is about identity and the body."

A reading of The Aves is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, January 25 at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org/all new. Ticket reservations are available. Free.

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