Riss Goodwin is mother, wife, and a reinvented actress who resumes her dreams to get to Hollywood and become a famous actress. She is therefore excited to audition for Medea the Musical in Chinatown, an avant garde iteration with music. However with in-laws coming in five hours with a two hour audition process, counting traffic, she is severely pressed for time.
As she jumps into her work she hears “the wheels on the bus go round and round” and her world alters and she grows younger and younger. In this undesired memory, Riss becomes the child version of herself, Rachel. Rachel and her brother Sang Duk are paid off to be owned by an orphanage. The children scream for their father and the musicality of the screams push Rachel back to reality and Riss’s is surreal. Her eyes land on on the “wheels on the bus.” Riss fiercely turns the program off. She knows she must stay on task.
She looks around the house and grows sick by the mess a toddler can create. But with love for both her husband and son, she does her best to tidy up. Once she enters into Hosu’s (meaning lake in Korean) playroom, she grows envious by the abundance of his toys, books, and play items. She locates a book given to her at her baby shower, titled: BiBimBop – a Korean rice dish and takes a moment to read. She wants to wean away her ghosts.
However as she moves through the pages, she is jerked inside another memory. This time a ghastly series of events leave her naked with black and blue eyes. She is crying and in severe pain. Riss remembers this moment vividly. A friendly outcast brings Rachel clothes and carries her out.
We see Rachel shortly afterwards, staring in a mirror looking at herself in a ripped, tattered and stained yellow dress. She utters yellow dress, growing happier with each utterance. She smiles. Rachel sees herself for the very first time.
The song Singing in the Dark Times was written in December 2016, a month after the presidential election. America had just taken a momentous turn—one that would affect not only social policy but also the temper of the nation. What concerned me then, and does now, is how we, individually and collectively, should respond to powerful, destructive forces. How do we hold on to our personal guidelines for decency when facing a daunting malevolence? I felt compelled to write a song about that, and in my search for a central metaphor I remembered the short poem, Motto, by Bertolt Brecht:
“In the dark times, will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing about the dark times.”
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