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Who’s Got The Fever?!: Our conversation with actors Sara Ochs and Kurt Kwan of “Yellow Fever”

Rick Shiomi’s critically acclaimed Yellow Fever returns to the stage this month at the renown Guthrie Theater. Smack in the middle of the production are incredibly talented Korean adoptees. Two of them, Sara Ochs and Kurt Kwan, took some time out of their busy schedules and chatted with LGA.

P.S. Don’t drool on your screens while reading this interview. Sara and Kurt are talented AND super attractive because, you know, that’s how Korean adoptees roll. Boom!

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Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Why should people see Yellow Fever, beyond it being awesome?

Sara Ochs: Rick Shiomi is retiring in August 2013. This is his first play, it was a great success Off-Broadway in the early 80s, it’s been performed internationally, and now he’s directing his own script in his final year as Artistic Director of the company he co-founded over 20 years ago. Lots of history. Also, it’s a fun, fast-paced show. It was first produced in 1982, but the issues it address are still relevant today – immigration, racism, sexism, recovering from trauma. Running through the entire play is the pain of this man, Sam Shikaze, who didn’t move on emotionally after being sent to the Japanese internment camps in Canada. How does someone recover from such a horrific event? Do you choose to feel or shut down? Additionally, the character I play, Nancy Wing, is a woman ahead of her time. She’s an interesting twist on the Girl Friday character, and it’s so great to have a confident, powerful woman onstage. And it’s awesome.^^

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Kurt Kwan: There is the possibility that I will buy you a Coke. Slight, but credible. Also, it’s a chance to see a staging of one of the plays from the Asian American Theater Canon. When I think about this show there are so many intersections of life and art. Rick was about the age I am now when he wrote Yellow Fever. So in going through the script I am exploring not only my character but the mind of a young(er) Rick Shiomi. It also seems perfectly appropriate to bookend Ricks tenure as Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts with the show that really launched his artistic career and I am so incredibly grateful to have been included in the process.

LGA: Mmm… Diet Coke… Moving on, what’s your best advice for kids who are interested in a career in acting?

Sara: Get the training, hone your technique, but also remember to live your life. Life experiences will help you deepen and enrich your characters, give you more exposure to the world and all the different ways people live, think, move, breathe. Also, travel. Learn how to write grants. Network.

Kurt: If you are good at anything else do that. I just spent a month rehearsing in an abandoned warehouse that smelled like dead Mu-Yellow_Fever_2mice. But if that sounds like something you would like to add to your to do list. I would say never stop learning, work on your craft, live a life, and most importantly show up on time.

LGA: Kurt, what was the greatest decision you made for your career?

Kurt: Moving to Minneapolis. I have found a community of friends and artists and also a Theatre that has nurtured me through a lot of my adult life.

LGA: To both, how awesome are Korean adoptees?

Sara: Superawesome!  우리 화이팅!

Kurt: How awesome was Star Wars?

LGA: Word.

Alright LGA Nation! If you live in Minnesota, go watch Sara and Kurt as they kick some major a in Yellow Fever. The production is not to be missed; we’ll be there and so should you!

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