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Get to Know Diana Oh!

Playwrights’ Corner
Diana Oh

Diana Oh is the creator and performer of "{my lingerie play}: Installation 9/10: THE FINAL INSTALLATION", the next play to receive a Studio Retreat reading here at The Lark!  This piece, which has also been through our Roundtable program, marks Diana's first experience developing work at The Lark.  "Installation 9/10" is the culminating section of Diana's complete piece, "{my lingerie play}: 10 Underground Performance Installations in my lingerie staged in an effort to provide a saner, safer, more respectful world for women to live in."  Each iteration of this play aims to empower women in an artful and public manner.  It is this combination of creativity and proactivity that make Diana and her work such a great fit for The Lark, and we could not be more thrilled at the prospect of working with such a passionate theatermaker.  In our recent interview with Diana, she discusses the earlier installations of {my lingerie play}... and the impacts and inspirations of the piece.

OLIVIA: What was it like to perform this piece in a hyper public setting like Times Square?

DIANA: It was exhilarating. And an instinct and impulse I couldn't ignore or shake off of me. The idea hit me the night before, and I knew it wasn't going to leave me alone.  I know I had no choice but to follow through with it. If I get inspired to do something, there's a 110% chance I'm going to do it. That does not mean I'm not scared or have an unshakable fear of failure that comes along with it. 

Right before I left to go do the first installation in Times Square I said the following things in my head: "I'm going to ruin my career. I'll always be known as the woman standing in her lingerie. I can't do this. I'm making a mistake. I'm scared." And once I said "I'm scared" out loud, then I said "oh dammit" because once I could identify that my reluctance to do it had to do with fear then I knew I definitely had to do it or I would regret not doing it for the rest of my life. I walked out the apartment with a soap box and headed to Times Square and was afraid of failure up until the point I took my pants off.  But then I took my pants off and it felt amazing, like jumping into a heated pool, and then everything was perfect. I also had two people there with me to a) keep me safe and b) give me strength. One of those people was Hye Yun Park who also filmed the installation. And the other was theater director Jessi D. Hill. 

O: The sixth installation of your play is called "cross-stitching mean comments."  Can you tell us a little about the impulse to use this particular art form as a means of "making beauty out of hate?" 

D: Oh man. The internet is scary. Scarier than the streets. Death threats, rape threats, you're ugly and stupid threats. I would scroll through comments, sometimes even private messages, sometimes even posts written on my wall--people going out of their way to let me know that I deserved to be hurt in some way for making this particular art. I was messaging with my friend Emily about the project and about the NFL and she made an off the cuff joke about making rape culture quotes embroidered on pillows and in cross stitch! And I thought it was the funniest idea ever. A few days later I asked if I could adapt her idea and do "cross-stitching mean comments." So I pulled an all-nighter, made a slide show of some of the mean comments I'd received in cross-stitch and did some voice-over recording of them because at a certain point you just have to laugh at how ridiculous these people sound. That is what a lot of art is, isn't it? Processing a bad experience into something artistic? That's what I think stand-up comedy is actually when I think of it.  Stand-up comedy is the most perfect art form ever, ever, ever, ever. Stand-up comedians are masters of making beauty out of hate. Props.

O: Can you give some examples of more positive reactions that you may have received?

D: SO MANY POSITIVE REACTIONS. For every mean comment, there were dozens of positive ones full of gratitude and personal stories and strength. I have hugged so many strangers because of {my lingerie play}, and my favorite reactions have been from all the people who have been a part of the installations--behind the camera, in front of the camera, on stage, back stage--it's just energizing for everyone. Some people who have come to see the installations and the show cry, and not because they are sad, but because they are relieved that someone is finally saying something. {my lingerie play} is an art piece born out of compassion and I think people really respond to that and when they get it, they really get it, and when they don't, well...I kind of judge them...with the hopes that they eventually get it. 

O: What are your hopes for the future of this work?

D: To stay as present as possible with it. The sky is the limit. This project continues to surprise me every day with where it goes. Record the music, make music videos, release them into the world, perform Installation 9/10 in living rooms, in theaters, in churches. Man, I really want to to bring this to my alma mater, Smith College, because woooo, that would be hot. Have people continuing performing the Installations. Some college campuses have performed Installation 5/10 and that is crazy exciting, to see college students take action like that. Keep going. Then make something else.