We had the good fortune of connecting with Minjoo Kim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Minjoo, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
I’ve learned the big lesson that theater is not a solo work and collaborative work with other designers from my design experience in theater. The theater is made up of “PEOPLE” and everything is about “COLLABORATION” with many others. I was always lucky as I’ve met good people. I appreciate the opportunities that I have had with a lot of experienced artists, directors, and artists. It gives me a good lesson during this pandemic. Everyone is experiencing a tough time and doesn’t know how to get through this. When you keep in mind that the world is collaborating it will give you the power to be a thoughtful person. Whenever I saw the news that people are having a party or gathering without wearing a mask, it reminds me of theater. If you believe that we coexist in this world you can’t do that. When you think of your neighborhood considerably, you can’t do that. I realize what I learned from my experience working in the theater is a real life lesson. It gives me a good attitude to be thoughtful about our society. If many of us think about the concept of “COLLABORATION” and it will make our society more livable.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My fever of being a designer in the theater started at my age of 17. My days as a teenager were quite ordinary as I spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning concerned about my future. I was very indifferent to everything as even famous proverbs and sayings failed to really capture my heart, at least until my music teacher made us watch the musical “Aida”. This film rendition of the play, brightly projected in the dark classroom was fascinating to the point where my eyes and ears were captivated. As I became overwhelmed by its grand scale, blasting the sound of memorable songs and brilliant lightings in various colors, every sense, and organ of my body began to wiggle, along with the play. It was not until after the very last light had dimmed that I was able to draw my breath back, as I had watched the entire play in a state of awe. As the darkened classroom returned to a state of brightened normalcy, I felt a bright light shining down in the corner of my heart that had, for so long, been colorless. I became fascinated by light in the sense that it could fill space and express atmosphere and how it could express many other things, even in space, through color, texture, and angle. Designing shows in other countries allowed me to respect others regardless of who they are or where they belong, and I appreciate the chance of working with them. Also, by having various projects with good people, I broke my shell and further expanded my imagination as a lighting designer and artist. I’ve been always lucky as I’ve met good people. I appreciate the opportunities that I have had with a lot of experienced artists, directors, and artists. Since theaters have been shut down due to Covid-19, theater artists have had to face the fact of how vulnerable we are. But, I truly believe that the theater community will get through this. Additionally, there are certainly unexpected obstacles in the US as a foreign designer. My experiences interacting with Americans and non-Americans have led me to realize how I as a foreign designer, in particular, have a challenging time. Having an open mind has helped me overcome these difficulties. I have a desire to dedicate myself to bridging Asian culture and American theater. I believe it would produce a wealthy multi-culture in our world.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s hard to name just one since there are many people who believe and support me. I’m grateful to various theater organizations that have funded me through this pandemic. Their financial support gave me a powerful motivation to keep me in the theater industry. Many fellow artists leave the theater. That’s the fact I have to face. But I’m still in love with theater and I don’t want to give up on my dreams. I keep asking myself “Are you going to leave the theater?” My answer is always “NO”. From the moment I dreamed of becoming a theater artist, I am trying to get one step closer to my dream. Also, I appreciate many colleagues, friends, and family who have supported and cared for me to get through this journey.
Sean Fanning, Manuel Rotenberg