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Home ENTERTAINMENT Carla Ching Tells a "Nuanced" Story About In-Game Revenge Porn

Carla Ching Tells a “Nuanced” Story About In-Game Revenge Porn

Early at Carla Ching’s new work “Revenge porn or the history of a body”, Leading lady Kat Chan is rocked by betrayal from someone she loves when her ex-husband posts intimate photos of her online.

Ching, the playwright behind “Nomad Motel” who has also written for TV shows like “Fear the Walking Dead,” paints a visceral portrait of betrayal and the relationships we have with our bodies in her latest work, which was originally commissioned for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference in 2021. Ching says she wrote the production with the Ammunition Theater Company “in part because I’m an Asian-American woman in her 40s and I don’t feel like there are a lot of stories about us, certainly not about how we deal with relationships or sex or our bodies and sexuality. We are simply forgotten after the age of 20 when we are young and beautiful.”

By reserving the story for Asian artists to tell, “Revenge Porn or the Story of a Body,” which premiered last weekend, shows that there is room for diverse talents to occupy space in a story like Ching’s. .

In “Revenge Porn,” main character Kat Chan has to decide how she will respond to her ex-husband’s posting of nude photos of her when they were together. She struggles between taking the right path and seeking revenge in her public way.

Ching was inspired to write the play after reading about Emma Holten’s Consent project. When Holten’s Facebook and email accounts were hacked in 2011, the private nude photos she kept in her accounts were shared online. She responded in 2015 by creating a series of photos with photographer Cecilie Bødker Jensen that showed her naked and doing everyday chores. Holten wrote in a article for “Hysterical Feminisms” that he did the project to become “a sexual subject instead of an object”.

Playwright Carla Ching sits on the set of her new play “Revenge Porn, or the Story of a Body.”

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Ching wanted to pay homage to Holten’s story with her new play, but changed it after wondering what if the woman were an Asian American woman in her 40s with “a career, a family, and a lot to lose.”

While the play focuses on Asian characters, their identity is not the crux of the narrative. Instead, he focuses on his experiences dealing with revenge porn. The complexity of the characters is what attracted the director and literary manager of Ammo, Bernardo Cubría, to the work.

“The play is about very human, very real, nuanced, complicated issues that reminded me of my family, my mother, my wife, me,” he says. “I saw myself in him. He felt so universal and beautiful.”

For Cubría, “Revenge porn or the story of a body” encourages its cast to assume roles that are normally restricted to them.

“The first space we are allowed to occupy are works about our historical pain and trauma, which are very important and beautiful, necessary works,” she says, “but now many of us long to be allowed to exist in spaces where we can be parents and mothers, not the funny Asian friend or the dark and evil Latino character.

Ching felt similar to, and often disappointed in, the roles available to Asian actors. In his experience, Asian roles were often reserved for actors when the character became “commodified in some way or our ethnicity became a fetish.”

“I wanted to have complex, nuanced and surprising characters on stage and write these roles for a lot of Asian-American actors, but identity and being Asian-American is not necessarily the goal,” he says. “They are not struggling with their identity as Asian Americans. They’re Asian-Americans going about their lives, and crazy things happen to them.”

Ching says it has been “exciting and reassuring” to write the play and allow the actors to bring it to life. She has even sensed the sentiment within the cast.

A woman poses in front of a tree for a photograph.

“I wanted to have complex, nuanced, surprising characters on stage and write these roles for a lot of Asian-American actors, but identity and being Asian-American isn’t necessarily the point,” says playwright Carla Ching of her new play.

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Tina Huang, who plays lead character Kat Chan, noted that most people on and off the production’s stage identify as Asian-American or Pacific Islander. After experiencing her own setbacks of being typecast due to her race, she says that she felt seen through her complexities in being able to play Chan.

“We don’t have a lot of stories that have these deep representations of these three-dimensional Americans who happen to also be Asians, and also address their place in this puzzle,” says Huang. “There should be space for artists who identify as me, as a person of color, a woman of color, an Asian American woman, where we don’t have to apologize to take the space.”

While identity may change or alter the way the show is viewed, it shows the industry that people of color have complex emotions when faced with a complicated situation of betrayal. Although Ching typically writes stories with Asian characters, his race is simply an additional trait that is separate from the central theme of his work, including past works such as “Fast Company” and “The Two Kids That Blow S— Up”: Why hurt the people we love?

What ultimately drives Ching to write works like “Revenge Porn or the Story of a Body” is giving people of color the opportunity to work in theater that they are not normally allowed to do in predominantly white institutions: narratives that reflect a reality that is rarely shown. on the stage.

“We’re all excited to be together in community, creating characters that look like us and feel like us, or like people we know,” says Ching.

‘Revenge porn or the story of a body’

Where: Munitions Theater Company, The Pico, 10508 West Pico Boulevard, LA

When: Thursday to Friday 8 pm, Saturdays 2 and 8 pm, Sundays 2 and 7 pm. Ends Oct. 9.

Tickets: $35 general admission

Information: ammunitiontheatre.com/

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