Based on her real-life experience of moving from South Korea to Canada, Pacific Theatre presents the world premiere of Maki Yi’s Suitcase Stories.
Originally developed as a group of ten-minute plays presented before each show during Pacific Theatre’s 2013/2014 season, this full-length version expands on Yi’s autobiographical immigrant story. A tale of self-discovery and hope, it is simultaneously an honest account of the difficulties of living in Canada as a newcomer.
In this Q&A we find out more about Suitcase Stories from the playwright and performer.
Q. Why were you compelled to tell your story?
Some of my friends, with whom I shared my story, encouraged me to write. I wish my story gives hope for people displaced or living in-between (wherever that could be).
Q. The advance press talks about you having left South Korea for a place you could “be yourself”. What did “being yourself” mean?
To be free from the pressure to accept the traditional gender role – I have nothing against it, but it was not what I wanted. I was looking for something I’d love to pursue and achieve.
Q. Were there other countries that you considered besides Canada?
No, Canada was my only choice. It may sound strange considering I hardly knew anything about Canada. Still it was meant to be, I believe.
Q. You talk about the move to Canada having been everything you hoped for and the most difficult thing you have done – why the dichotomy?
Leaving was great, felt so free and alive. Arriving is another matter, like rooting into new soil, lots of adapting and adjusting.
Q. What was the most surprising thing you discovered about coming to Canada?
So many colorful people! It was nothing like I saw in occidental movies, where non-white people barely appeared.
Q. Any regrets in choosing Canada as your new home?
No regrets. It was meant to be, I still believe.
Q. Your play grew out of the Lobby Project at Pacific Theatre – was it your hope that your 10-minute plays would eventually form together into Suitcase Stories?
It was Ron [Reed], the artistic director, who encouraged me to develop into a full play, when I proposed the mini-stories in the lobby. I cannot thank him enough for his support throughout the development.
Q. Do you have plans to present the work back in your home country?
Nothing planned at the moment. I am open to possibilities.
Suitcase Stories plays Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre from October 28 through November 12. Visit https://pacifictheatre.org for tickets and information.