It was much more “Little Mermaid”, wasn’t it? Wanting to be human and letting go of who she was, and then having this struggle. When I wrote it, I was also very frustrated with the idea of heaven – the idea of it, the betterment, the pursuit of happiness. I’ve written this before: At the time, I was living in government subsidized housing that had a lot of cockroaches, so I became fascinated with them and learned that, you know, they can just release eggs All their life. It’s a bit mind-boggling.
So, like “Zolle” had people thinking about immigration and belonging, “Cockroach” had fun moments but hit audiences differently. You can tell it’s this female body thing, but I have a Chinese version of it too, and women in their 30s and 40s were really crying when they saw it because of lines like “I want to be pregnant for love. ”
To the right. For all its lightness, it is actually deep.
It’s very deep.
And I feel like, on its own, each room can be opened for X and Y reading. But putting them together changes that. The “Tarantella” has so much hope and defiance, but when you follow it with the lonely afterlife of “Zolle” it becomes devastating.
The public connects to it as it does. But I do want to mention that when we recorded the digital short of “Zolle” for LA Opera and I was narrating some of the parts, I got really, really emotional. I was thinking about Asian hate, and it really got to me because that piece was almost 20 years ago and it still rings so true. There’s a line to say something like “I’m an immigrant, even in this ghost world.” Then I realized that this is something that I, you know, as an immigrant, will always carry with me. [Du was born in Shanghai and moved to the United States to study at Oberlin.]
What else do you feel when revisiting these works?
You know, it’s the International Contemporary Ensemble’s 20th anniversary season. We feel like we are 100 years old, but we are also entering another era with George Lewis as the new leader.
But it was the first stage production ever by the International Contemporary Ensemble. So even though they’re evolving into different models and we’re bringing in Satomi – I’m a huge Deerhoof fan – it feels like a bit of a homecoming. Which is fitting, because these pieces are really about back to basics. Reunions, but also departures.