Meghan Kreidler is, in a word, busy. She recently played the Basilica Block Party, with her band Kiss the Tiger, and the Red Stag Supper Club’s In Cahoots block party as well. And, of course, she is starring in Theater Mu’s latest production, Hot Asian Doctor Husband, opening this Friday, 8/15, which means daily rehearsals and plenty of pre-show jitters.
As Khaled Hosseini wrote in The Kite Runner, “Time can be a greedy thing – sometimes it steals the details for itself.”
And when balancing more than one passion, it can be hard to find time for everything, in practice – is it possible to truly appreciate every detail, remain passionate about your work, and find time to, as it is said, stop and smell the roses, with such a full schedule?
It would certainly seem so, as Kreidler aptly demonstrates: Though she’s been busy (and I was the one who was late for our meeting at Open Book in Minneapolis for mid-morning coffee), it certainly doesn’t show. What is evident is her excitement, not only surrounding current projects; the things she has already in-the-works, but the projects still-to-come.
It’s about being discerning, she explains. Each moment is precious, so it’s important not to say “yes” to any-and-every project that comes along or is offered to you. It’s about choosing projects that are important; that mean something more; represent something greater than a simple career move.
“I choose projects that give me an opportunity to work on something new,” she says. “Things I haven’t already done, and things that I can’t get from my music, or can’t find anywhere else… Projects that help me grow as an artist.”
These upcoming projects include A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie, recording the third studio album with Kiss the Tiger, and an upcoming musical adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s play The House of Bernarda Alba, written by Michael John LaChiusa, for Theater Latte da, featuring an all-female cast and director.
Though, unfortunately, there isn’t quite-enough time for everything…
“The Twin Cities has an amazing arts scene. There’s so much that I haven’t even explored because there is so much going on, especially music and theatre-wise.”
Kreidler’s love-of-stage, the expression and artistry of image and sound, began long ago. She moved around the country often as a child – Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts – before settling in Eagan, where a robust arts program at her elementary school and high school allowed her to explore and develop her talents early.
“The Music Man was the first production I ever did in 6th grade… I played the mayor’s wife, Eulalie McKecknie Shinn. I haven’t stopped doing plays since.”
As the arts landscape has continued to grow and change, more dynamic and diverse than it was even 10 years ago, and certainly 15 or 20, that passion has continued to grow as well.
“There seems to be a good variety of offerings as far as theatre goes [in the Twin Cities]. You get the touring acts that come through the Hennepin Theatre Trust venues, as well as the regional clout of the Guthrie that brings more classical work to the community, especially Shakespeare. But you also have smaller theatres that are doing dynamic and important work, more experimental work. There’s really something for everyone, and the quality of the work and most importantly the quality of artistry seems very present in every theatre, small or large.”
And creating a stage for stories that have for too-long been kept in the dark.
No disrespect to Shakespeare – it’s not about abandoning the classics, simply making room on the stage for new classics to emerge.
“There’s something to be said about transforming yourself for a role,” she says. “Becoming something entirely outside your usual realm. But there is also something important about representing who you really are – a role that speaks to you because it’s your story.”
Especially when that story has rarely been given the script it deserves. Theater Mu holds a very special place for this reason – as the only theater in the Twin Cities dedicated to the unique stories of Asian-Americans, whether a part of the recent diaspora or multi-generational.
Hot Asian Doctor Husband
Playwright Leah Nananko Winkler‘s script for Hot Asian Doctor Husband is the perfect vehicle for such a story.
Kreidler, who is half-Korean, plays Emi, a twenty-something biracial woman dating a white man who “…begins to urgently question her own legacy. Afraid that she is white-washing her Asian culture that she is now solely responsible for…” after the death of her mother. As a result, she pursues the perfect “Hot Asian Doctor Husband,” and, unsurprisingly, hijinks and hilarity ensues as the play attempts to answer the question, “Is love truly blind? Or are our relationships just a carefully curated conglomeration of our own racial bias?”
In an age/era where representation is an increasingly-important piece of achieving equality – both on the stage and off – creating a platform for characters like Emi is especially important.
The Cartesian philosophy of “I think therefore I am” was updated in 2013 by famed sociologist Zygmunt Bauman to “I am seen therefore I am” – and thus the more we are seen by people, the more we are. With underrepresented minorities and marginalized groups now (finally) getting a chance to be seen (and heard, and applauded), we understand how important this truly is.
Finding plays (and films, like Always Be My Maybe, and Crazy Rich Asians, and TV shows like Kim’s Convenience which have recently found success as well) that are able to share stories with a growing audience, with people who might not know a.) what it’s like to face these pressures, or b.) how many people have had similar experiences to theirs.
“It gives us an opportunity to come together,” Kreidler says. “Actors, audience, in ways which might not have been available to us before… whether you’re familiar with the specific subject matter or seeing it for the first time.”
And while the play might seem niche from the outside, it’s one that is relatable to all backgrounds, and on multiple levels; described as a “millennial rom com about interracial dating,” the message, as a whole, is not culture-specific.
“[The play] is funny, people will be in stitches, but it’s also very real – something people will recognize – the pressures of family, of culture, of performing in the modern world while still maintaining a respect for tradition, and finding an identity when you’ve been told all your life to be one-thing-or-another…”
“Each scene has a different flavor,” Meghan laughs. “You never know what is coming next.”
And it’s these sorts of successes that will lead to a future of inclusivity – beyond what studio heads might think will sell, and without need to capitalize on controversy, monetize the continued cultural push for a seat at the table or flash-in-the-pan cultural trends that don’t actually address the inequality at their core.
As writers like Winkler, directors like Kim, actors like Kreidler, etc. represent the diversity that has long made up the cultural fabric of states like Minnesota, and the country as-a-whole, perhaps there will (someday) no longer be any need for this discussion.
“There seems to be a consciousness present in the theatre community of how to best serve the larger community. That consciousness seems to be expanding as well. Twin Cities artists seem to be holding each other more accountable so we can all show up and do our jobs in safe, nurturing environments. With that being said, there’s still a lot of work to be done!”
This is Mu’s mission, one play, one stage, one story at a time. It’s what makes it such an important production for everyone involved. It’s what reminds us, in uncertain times often begging for some sort of clarity, that there is at least one clear path forward.
“I’m glad to be a part of a community that has a conscience,” Meghan says.
Something in which we all play a role, no matter how busy we might be.
WHAT: Hot Asian Doctor Husband, written by Leah Nanako Winkler,
directed by Seonjae Kim, and starring Meghan Kreidler, Damian Leverett,
Danielle Troiano, Mikell Sapp, Eric Sharp, Sun Mee Chomet,
and Maekalah Ratsabout
WHEN: 8/16 - 9/1/19
WHERE: Mixed Blood Theater, 1501 S 4th St, Minneapolis, MN 55454