Levitating rocks, Farkian frogs, flying dragons, space travel? ArtsEmerson is no stranger to adventure, but who could have imagined all this?
If your home is like mine, you know that anything can happen when two young siblings start telling each other a story. Random acts of magic, imaginary adventures that include chupacabras and midday travels to outer space are completely within the realm of possibility! Lloyd Suh’s The Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! is the delightfully poignant story of puppetry and fantasy, of siblings and bullies, of conquest and victory! The Wong Kids has that Pixar-like quality (think Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Inside Out). It’s for the kids but the parents, and for that matter any adult, will love it just as much. It is a story of otherness, adolescence and overcoming obstacles—things we can all relate to.
As I watch my two young boys grow I see firsthand those moments when the boundlessness of their imaginations is challenged by an increased awareness of peer pressure and the lost innocence that comes with growing older. For Violet Wong, the cool, older sister of Bruce, her challenge begins at age thirteen when she begins to believe that possessing superpowers is no longer cool! So now what? Violet tries to fit in. We have all experienced the urge to conform—the pressure to be more like our friends. We begin to question our identity inside of our social circles, constantly comparing ourselves, and trading in our individuality for the sake of popularity, status and sometimes survival. The Wong Kids challenges us to embrace our otherness and recognize that it’s the richness of difference that will ultimately allow us to live more deeply, with more curiosity and a sense of adventure.
And then there’s the question of superpowers. What superpowers do we need to be able to have the courage to embrace our individuality? In the play, Violet and Bruce can move rocks with their minds and breathe in outer space without a helmet. Kind of lame superpowers, but just enough to challenge that Chupacabra! What superpowers do you require to take your next adventure, to conquer your biggest fear, to become more fully yourself?
Themes of self and other are interwoven throughout much of our work here at ArtsEmerson. We are committed to bringing you stories that reflect the diversity of the lives and the cultures that make up the city of Boston, fostering a space where the imagination is nurtured and encouraged, where we can see and embrace ourselves in the full light of our differences. We are so glad you are here with us tonight! Embrace your inner child and have fun!
David C. Howse
The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! runs FEB 19 – MAR 6 at The Paramount in downtown Boston.