New Work in Progress: KPOP

Ars Nova‘s upcoming production of KPOP, written by Jason Kim, Helen Park and Max Vernon and produced in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company and Woodshed Collective, is not to be missed. We reached out to Jason Eagan, Ars Nova’s Artistic Director, to learn more about the show and what audience members can expect when they experience the show for themselves. KPOP previously received a NFNM Writers Residency Grant at Ars Nova.
How did KPOP first find its way to Ars Nova?

KPOP began more than four years ago! Woodshed Collective’s Artistic Director (and KPOP‘s director) Teddy Bergman invited me to lunch to share his fascination with the burgeoning Korean Pop music industry and shared the seeds of an idea to create a massive immersive show based on the phenomenon. I was immediately taken with the idea and eventually commissioned Woodshed, along with bookwriter Jason Kim and Helen Park and Max Vernon to write music and lyrics. Since then an incredible array of wildly talented collaborators have assembled around this project and we’ve become collectively obsessed with translating the behind-the-scenes craft of K-Pop into an immersive theatrical experience.

What does the partnership with Ma-Yi Theater Company and Woodshed Collective look like as you prepare for this world premiere?
One of the great joys of producing these kinds of unique projects is getting to assemble artistic collaborators who each bring their own area of expertise to the table to make something entirely original. In addition to the impressive KPOP creative team, this collaboration also includes Ma-Yi Theater, the foremost incubator of Asian American theater in the country and Woodshed Collective, who have honed their creation of sprawling immersive theater for years. With Ars Nova’s unique development process and producing prowess, we’ve all come together to figure out how to combine immersive theater and music-driven storytelling for a whole new kind of theatrical experience.

How does this new production tie in to Ars Nova’s overall mission?
In general we are heavily committed to producing our commissions and we have a particular interest in bringing audiences more of these hybrid, genre-bending shows. KPOP is going to be a perfect example of that, combining original Korean Pop songs, high octane hip hop choreography, and immersive theater into a boundlessly ambitious evening.

Ars Nova is well-known for creating new and innovative musicals—what about this show pushes the boundaries of what most audiences think of when they imagine a musical?
The experience and sound of the show are definitely going to push the boundaries of musical theater. The energy and craft of K-Pop songs is infectious and to our knowledge no one has used that in a theatrical context to tell a story. We’ve got a little bit of experience now creating shows that rove all over a single theater but KPOP is going to sprawl throughout an entire building to help give our audiences the experience of being immersed in the multi-faceted, engrossing industry of Korean Pop music, while still delivering a narrative that will explore deeper thematic questions.

Why should folks put KPOP on their “must see” list for this fall?
Like The Wildness, Futurity, and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 before it, KPOP is going to make people rethink what a musical can be and sound like. Part music video, part behind-the-scenes expose, and part explosive concert, it’s going to feel like a whole new world of music-driven theater.

For more information about KPOP and to buy tickets, visit Ars Nova’s website.

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