When Seattle’s Seayoung Yim figured out that she experienced been awarded the 2022 Yale Drama Series Prize, a prestigious once-a-year, international award that acknowledges an unproduced enjoy from an emerging playwright, she was in “complete shock.” Yim’s “Jar of Unwanted fat,” which explores motivation, ugliness and elegance by means of the lens of a fantastical fairy-tale planet, was picked out of extra than 1,500 entries. Her win incorporates receiving the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000 as properly as publication of her winning engage in by Yale College Push and a staged reading through.
“I know some individuals who’ve won in the earlier and I’ve read through their get the job done and I’m just — I recall publishing likely, ‘There’s no way, but I need to just observe publishing,’” said Yim.
Traditionally, winners have been hand-picked by a prestigious playwright decide like Pulitzer Prize recipients Paula Vogel, Ayad Akhtar, Marsha Norman and Edward Albee. In a 1st, this year’s winner was decided by a overall body of 6 earlier prize winners: Neil Wechsler, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Virginia Grise, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Leah Nanako Winkler and Rachel Lynett.
“Just currently being in the company of these writers has just been — I’m nonetheless processing,” Yim mentioned. “These are people today I seriously appear up to.”
Yim noted in a new dialogue that, ever given that the announcement in late March, she’s acquired far more emails than she ever experienced right before, each from publications and from other artists looking to meet up with or read more of her do the job. A great deal has modified for Yim, 40, who uncovered herself not executing a great deal theater following graduating with her bachelor’s diploma in drama from the University of Washington in 2004.
Following graduation, Yim struggled to come across place for herself in the theater earth. In its place, she wound up getting concerned in nonprofit and activist areas like MomsRising, Asian Pacific Islander Community Management Basis and Social Justice Fund Northwest. As she put in time in these and other businesses, she was equipped to master a lot more about Korean history from the progressive Koreans she was equipped to satisfy in Seattle. From these experiences, she was able to achieve the self esteem to commence figuring out how to convey to her have tales and start her journey to producing performs from her personal Korean American encounter.
Yim commenced getting grownup playwriting lessons taught by fellow Seattle playwright Stephanie Timm, workshopping performs that would then be featured in general public readings.
“And that was just like — it felt so neat,” Yim mentioned. “Like, I wrote that and an individual else is stating it, but they are stating it way much better than I assumed it would appear out.”
Yim was able to create her initial full-size perform, “Do It For Umma,” which she describes as “an absurd tragicomedy about a youthful lady hoping to obtain her mother’s acceptance and defend her family’s honor.” The manufacturing was pitched to Annex Theatre, exactly where she was paired with Broadway-bound Seattle theater artist Sara Porkalob. With Porkalob as director, the engage in premiered in 2016 to full audiences, running on off nights at Annex when the mainstage clearly show was not undertaking. Yim known as it a “magical experience” to do the job with Porkalob, who Yim explained showed a deep knowing of her feeling of humor and the coronary heart of her stories.
“I felt like Sara, even however we’re not from the same ethnic local community, just remaining Asian American, she got my tale and there were so several issues that she comprehended without me possessing to make clear,” explained Yim.
That very first participate in obtained the People’s Selection Award for Remarkable New Perform at Theatre Puget Sound’s Gregory Awards and the Gypsy Rose Lee award for excellence in nearby playwriting from Seattle Theater Writers. Considering that then, she’s been developed all around the town, including a 2018 operate of her engage in “Persimmon Nights” at Cafe Nordo, all over again with Porkalob at the helm. Yim also credits crafting teams like SIS Writers Team and Theatre Battery for assisting her advancement over the years.
“I truly feel like local community truly assisted me build my assurance,” Yim explained. “All the men and women that I did activism perform with would occur out to the plays too, and that just intended so significantly to me.”
By 2019, Yim was off to Brown University, exactly where she’s now established to get her master’s in playwriting later this 12 months. Her to start with calendar year in the system highlighted an early workshop production of her now award-winning “Jar of Fat.” Yim credited graduate school — and the truth that it is entirely funded, offering overall health insurance policies and a stipend, enabling her to concentration on writing — for encouraging her experimentation and making it possible for her the area to take a look at thoughts and subjects that are meaningful to her.
“I’m just exhausted of fatphobia,” Yim said of building “Jar of Excess fat.” “Just to be burdened with frequently worrying about what I look like or how substantially I have received or shed, it is just turn into this fat that I really don’t want to deal with any more. So ‘Jar of Fat’ was form of like my rage exploded, but I desired to do it with comedy. That is usually my genre or strategy of dealing with hard subject areas for the reason that it is by now onerous and cumbersome to consider about.”
Yim describes “Jar of Fat” as a darkly comedic Korean American fairy tale discovering both equally the allure and danger of the quest for attractiveness and thinness. The absurdist, comedic participate in follows two Korean American sisters who are deemed much too excess fat to healthy in their household grave and whose bond is place to the check underneath the pressure of their local community and parents, who spare no hard work to get them tinier.
“Reading the engage in felt like a dialogue, like the playwright was daring me to participate in together,” said decide Lynett, who won 2021’s Yale Drama Sequence Prize, in a statement. “I’m normally inquiring myself, ‘What have I under no circumstances observed before? What voices are missing from theater?’ This enjoy felt radical, but also simply so trustworthy it couldn’t be disregarded.”
Yim is seeking to continue this play’s journey at Vermont’s Northern Phase as portion of its “New Works Now” software this summer (postponed from final winter season owing to the surge of coronavirus). As for upcoming steps in Yim’s profession, she’s looking to get a supervisor and agent and discovering venturing into tv. Nevertheless, as she mirrored on her journey to this place, Yim gave considerably credit rating to Seattle for her chance to mature.
“Much adore to Seattle,” Yim mentioned. “I would not have gotten below without the need of Seattle’s community.”