“Homeful” Is Where the Heart Is

Lead Article, Reviews

by Chance Morgan

“Where are you from?” This is a familiar question to many of us, but especially to Amy Mihyang Ginther. She hates the question, because as a Korean‑American adoptee, it always carries a secondary, quite bothersome meaning: “You don’t belong here.” The question is repeated throughout her performance, and the answer changes each time, as Ms. Ginther acknowledges another part of herself or evolves to adapt to new circumstances.
 
“Homeful” is Ms. Ginther’s story of her journeys around the globe over many years, and the adventures she experienced and lessons she learned along the way. The story begins with her arrival in London, after leaving her family in the United States. In short order, she sweeps the audience along with her to Edinburgh, Dublin, the American Deep South, San Francisco, Senegal, Argentina, and many other places. We accompany Ms. Ginther to witness her joys (such as finding love with a gentle man from Glasgow, or feasting with her Korean family), her obstacles (like getting stranded in Argentina or being dumped via email) and especially the moments she shares with her family.
 
While she doesn’t place great emphasis on home, either as a physical location or an abstract idea, Ms. Ginther keeps her family close in her life. Email correspondence with her mother, text messages with her best friend, and voicemail messages with close family friends are all incorporated into the performance, either visually by way of projections, or through the sound design. All the while, she confides in the audience as though we are close friends.
 
Nowhere in the show is this connection more powerful, or more heartbreaking, than when Ms. Ginther tells of her mother’s battle with cancer, her decline, and eventually her passing. A beautiful and mournful clarity grounds this depiction of one of the most painfully relatable human experiences: the loss of a loved one. Notably, this time represents a pause in Ms. Ginter’s roaming, which was practically ceaseless up to that point.
 
The loss of her mother changes Ms. Ginther’s demeanor, as she becomes more serious and still. However, she never seems like anyone other than herself. Her change is a familiar one: growth, maturity, certainty. The performance, appropriately, ends as it began: with Ms. Ginther on the phone with her mother, except this time, the audience hears the mother’s words as well. This bittersweet moment captures the essence of “Homeful” with great impact.
 
“Homeful” is an extremely human story. It is joyous and mournful, adventurous and comforting, clever and contemplative. Amy Mihyang Ginther’s “Homeful” is, in a word, extraordinary.
 
“Homeful”
Written and Performed by Amy Mihyang Ginther
Oct. 18 at 9pm, Oct. 20 at 9pm, Nov. 2 at 9pm
Director: Lisa Marie Rollins
Photo: courtesy of the production
United Solo 2018
Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
New York City

CHANCE MORGAN is a writer and director currently based in New Jersey. He has worked for Dorset Theatre Festival, Northern Stage, and Bay Street Theatre. He is a graduate of Colorado Mesa University’s theatre program, and spends his time developing his screenplays and musicals.
 

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