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Cinthia Chen – Waters of Oblivion

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    In Chinese folklore, the Lady of Forgetfulness, Meng Po, feeds the souls of the deceased a soup to help them forget their previous lives before reincarnating into their next.

    Meng Po serves as a gateway to ruminate over what ties us to the past, present, and future. Her role as the gatekeeper of memories and reincarnation reminds us that life does not dematerialize, but instead, always transitions and transforms. The piece asks participants to reconsider the nature of memory and loss in their own lives, stirring in cultural anecdotes, neuroscience, and interviews with loved ones. How do we hold space to communally recount and remember significant moments in our lives, and how does it alter all of us to do so?

    During this time of seismic loss, when many traditional grieving rituals – communal gatherings, vigils, and funerals – have been unable to proceed as usual, this piece draws inspiration from ancestral rites, spiritual altars, online platforms and communities, as well as research on catharsis, in order to reimagine and play with new rituals for the moment. Conceived as a multifaceted experience, Waters of Oblivion is an on-site/online hybrid experiential piece that wades deep into the underworld to observe what collectively emerges and what can be left behind.

    This pieces was created as we reflected on the times we are in, from pandemic to widespread socio-political upheaval, the unique/rare circumstances has propelled us to think beyond the norms and conventions. As we tried to create space through art and theater to address the heightened emotions during this time, we felt it necessary to embarks on this multi-platform, interdisciplinary, and highly devised (in both performance and design) journey.

    Production Credits

    Presenter – Theater Mitu
    Venue – Mitu580

    Kayla Asbell
    Cinthia Chen
    Tina Hanaé Miller
    Monica Sanborn
    Maya Simone
    Elizabeth Sun

    Director – Cinthia Chen
    Projection Design – Cinthia Chen

    Media Design – Cinthia Chen
    Stage Manager – Maya Simone
    Lighting Design – Sarah Lurie
    Scene Design – Chen-Wei Liao
    Sound Design – Tina Hanaé Miller

    Tech Director – Justin Nestor

    Actors featured in Photos
    Kayla Asbell
    Monica Sanborn
    Maya Simone
    Elizabeth Sun

    Photographer – Cinthia Chen