Kristina Wong spreads suicide awareness through dark humor
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 00:09
This past Monday night in the Student Union theatre, artist Kristina Wong performed “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” her nationally acclaimed one-woman show, as part of UConn’s Suicide Prevention Week.
“Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a show written and performed by Wong that examines the issue of suicide among women of the Asian American community, of which Wong is a member. It premiered in 2006, and has since toured nationwide. The show consists of Wong acting as a fictionalized version of herself, attempting to both understand and prevent suicide among Asian American women (“How is Kristina Wong going to save them all?”), as well as dealing with her own crisis. Though the show is primarily fictional, Wong admitted that some parts of it were based off her own life, though changed to add some humor.
“Certain parts…like the scene where I was trying to get the free help…are based off of reality,” said Wong. “I did a lot of research while I was writing the show, and a lot of that stemmed from what I went through when I was younger, and dealing with many of the same issues that I deal with in the show.”
Although dealing with a serious subject, the show frequently employed humor. One moment, Wong was discussing stories of past suicide victims. The next, she would be encouraging everyone to stand up, hold hands and sing a jaunty, dark little tune, right before darkness re-enveloped the theatre. On the subject of injecting such aspects into the serious topic of suicide prevention, Wong said, “The show is really like a Trojan horse of comedy. I know how hard it is, especially in that demographic, to show up at some information panel on suicide and look for help. It’s a lot easier to show up here and get the information you need…when you feel you’re going to a performance.”
Pilar Zoffoli, a member of the UCAELI program, felt that the program was “good at helping us to deal with bad situations. I’ve had people in those situations, which is why I wanted to come and hear what Wong had to say about suicide. She was very dynamic.”
Sheila Kucko, the assistant director of the Asian American Cultural Center and a member of the Suicide Prevention Committee, organized the show, bringing in Wong as this year’s keynote speaker for Suicide Prevention Week. When asked why Wong was chosen as the speaker, Kucko said, “We originally watched a recording of the show, and after it finished, we just knew that we had to have her come to UConn.”
After the show, a reception was hosted in the Asian American Cultural Center, where students were able to discuss the show with Wong, and ask any questions that they had.