“The Vast Mystery Of Who You Are (Part One)” by Kim Yaged, a conversation on identity and otherness

By Manon Beury

Last year, Nicola Popovic interviewed award-winning writer Kim Yaged for Creating Rights in a rousing portrait where the artist explained how her involvement in social justice is reflected in her work. Kim’s new play, “The Vast Mystery of Who You Are (Part One)”, will be performed at the New York Live Arts on Friday 13 April 2018 at 7pm as part of the Downtown Urban Arts Festival. An opportunity to discuss her new projects and elaborate on the concept of building your empathy muscle that she developed.

“The Vast Mystery of Who You Are” is a two-act play, directed by Rebecca Cunningham and featuring 4 actors. Only the first act will be showed on Friday (“Part One”). The premise of the first part rests on a woman who identifies as queer. She meets someone at a sex party in Berlin and discovers that this person considers herself third gender. Kim Yaged lived in Berlin for two years and a half and wrote “The Vast Mystery of Who You Are” during that period. In a lot of ways, it is about the community that she met there but the European location is also useful to distance the play from a critique of US politics.

Act One and Act Two feature the same actors playing different characters in two completely different stories. The audience sees the same bodies playing people who don’t seem connected, reinforcing the idea that “we are all in each other.” A common trend in Kim’s work is identity and otherness, which refer to her idea of building the empathy muscle that was developed in her portrait on Creating Rights. “All of us can relate to the feeling of being other or outside, ultimately we are just people.” She shows people that others in the world don’t have much access to, people whose lives and behaviours might seem fun and far to us, but aren’t.

Working with diverse mediums such as theatre, dance or animation, Kim looks for the best way to tell a story and the best way to invite people to reflect upon difficult or heavy topics. She sees her work as a way to getting across cultural understanding, an invitation to a conversation.

While the project “Let’s be one Hand” continues to live online, Kim’s attention is now focused on a new play: “The Suicide Blog,” a thriller about a Pakistani American who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The character starts a blog where she writes incendiary political opinions and discusses her plan to commit suicide before she dies of this illness. And then she is kidnapped. The play deals with issues such as terrorism, gun control, obsession with social media, multiculturalism and how Muslim communities are read in the media. “It’s a play about now.”


“The Vast Mystery Of Who You Are (Part One)”, New York Live Arts, NYC, on Friday 13 April 2018 at 7 PM.

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