--You think you have a perfect life? You think high exam scores and designer clothes are all you need? No! You need God in your life. Without him, your life is worthless. We LIVE through God. And we’re here to do his work here on this earth. Our success is for his success. No matter how great your life is, it is nothing without God in the center. --
A Harvard Medical Student, Testimonials
Testimonials is a new play by Mina Choi. This full-length play tells the story of a Korean-American teenager’s struggle against his hell-fire loving pastor father and the born-again Christians who have taken over the youth ministry.
Paul Kwak, a sixteen year-old, has to cope with unbearable doomsday lectures from his unforgiving father, Reverend Kwak, and battle the zealous teenagers who have turned the youth ministry into a non-stop testimonials session. Utilizing a fluid structure that actively blurs the line between the performers and the audience, Testimonials toys with the concept of faith--particularly irrational, blind faith.
Setting: Flushing, Queens, New York City
--This is my life. Surrounded by a bunch of born-again Christians who have hijacked my father’s church. I have to spend eight hours here every Sunday. My family get up at seven in the morning, pick up the two senior citizens who can’t take the bus and can’t afford a car, and arrive here at nine. The die-hard Koreans who have nothing else in their life except stacking groceries at their 24-hour store start praying for an hour before we start the services. The kids go into a separate service to listen to the English-speaking youth ministers. We spend an hour in pre-church gospel singing, another two hour in learning about God's love for us and break for lunch. Afterwards, they have confessions and testimonials--time to renew our vow to God. It’s enough to make anyone come off religion. But these kids, they swear by it. --
The Ke Center for Contemporary Arts in Shanghai hosted a reading of Testimonials on September 13, 2008. Translated into Chinese by Wu Yanting, the Mandarin-version was received by an audience of 80 theater lovers. For photos and mp3 of the Mandarin reading, click HERE
H.K.: Can I ask a question, Jay?
H.K.: So there it is: Adam and Eve, the only two human beings on earth. And it says in the Bible, they had two boys Cain and Abel. We all know what happened to Abel –thank God that we’re a civilized society now and don’t resort to fratricide. But here we are, descendents of Cain. Leaving aside the moral quandary of that dubious lineage, what I want to know is whom Cain married.
MODERATOR: Who Cain married?
H.K.: That’s right. There’s Adam and Eve. The only two human beings on earth. Then there are the sons Cain and Abel. Abel dies. Cain goes off and marries. Who does he marry? Does he marry an ape?
MODERATOR: That’s a very good question. I’m sure the Bible has the answer for us.
H.K.: I’ve looked already. And it does not clarify that. It just says that Cain went to the land of Nod where he knew his wife.
MODERATOR: Is that what it says?
H.K. : Knew his wife. Knew in Old Testament language means sexual relationship. But it still doesn’t tell us where the wife came from.
MODERATOR: I think there are some things in the Bible that we are not supposed to take at face value. There are some things in there that are… more metaphors.
H.K.: That’s absolutely blasphemous. How can you tell us that when we’re taught to obey the scriptures, word for word.
MODERATOR: You know this discussion is about Original Sin, not about Cain and Abel. Let’s get back to the topic.
H.K.: If Cain “knew” an ape sexually, wow-- that’s bestiality. That’s wrong, isn’t it? To mate with an animal? But I was told it happens often, and human beings have been doing it since their inception. In the time of Jesus, shepherds often had sexual relationship with their own sheep. It gives another meaning to leading your flock, doesn’t it? But then maybe Darwin was right—we did descend from the apes. I mean, if we take the Bible literally, we have to accept that there were no other humans for Cain to marry. It’s a problem, isn’t it?
MODERATOR: Let’s go back to the concept of Original Sin.
H.K.: I don’t think you know the answer.
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