For Immediate Release — March 19, 2004

SCHOOL OF PERFORMING ARTS’ GENSENG

TO PRESENT "FALLING FLOWERS"

Korean Playwright’s Work Takes Look at Captivity and Slavery

GENESEO, N.Y. — Each semester the School of Performing Arts (SOPA) at SUNY Geneseo presents a vast selection of works, and one performance of note this spring will be GENseng’s presentation of "Falling Flowers," a dramatic play about the Korean "comfort women" who were forced to serve as sex slaves to the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

"Falling Flowers" will be performed on Thursday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, April 9, at 4 p.m.; and Saturday, April 10, at 2 p.m. All performances are $4.00 and are open to the public, and will be held in the Robert Sinclair Theatre in the William A. Brodie Hall.

"Falling Flowers" is a true story, and follows the plight of three young Korean girls through their captivity and slavery, according to Randy Kaplan, associate professor in SOPA and GENseng’s founder and director. The storyline is this: Behind battle lines in Manchuria, the girls are placed in huts where they are forced to "service" soldiers 20 to 40 times per day. They were transferred here and there to the battlefields by the troops, and were not treated as human beings. "At the time of the ceasefire, Japanese soldiers ran away, leaving the women alone at the comfort houses," Kaplan said. "Many were reportedly killed or forced to commit suicide by Japanese soldiers. Today, only 55 survive, many living at Sharing House in Seoul, South Korea a group home where victims live together and receive counseling."

Kaplan added that, after the war, the women were shunned by their families and deeply affected by the social biases of their culture. "It is only within the last decade that their story comes to light, as the women overcame cultural biases and prejudices related to the issue and public awareness has grown," she said.

The presentation of "Falling Flowers" is made possible through financial support from a grant for Creating Diversity through Community from the Vice President for Student and Campus Life, and the Departments of English, Anthropology, History, Sociology, and Psychology along with the Korean American Students Association (KASA) and the School of Performing Arts. GENseng will donate box office profits to Sharing House, marking the first time that GENseng engages in charitable work through its performances.

According to Kaplan, GENseng has grown significantly since its creation in 1999 as a staged reading series with all performances admission-free for members of the campus and community. In 2002 the group presented its first full production, "Paper Angels" by Genny Lim, the story of hardships faced by Chinese immigrants in Angel Island.

As part of its mission, Geneseo’s School of Performing Arts works to provide opportunities for all of its students, not just students pursuing degrees in the arts. "Many students from across campus contribute to the department, and enhance their liberal arts educational experience by becoming involved with a number of programs," Kaplan said.

GENseng is the college’s Asian American theatre group. Founded in 1999 by Kaplan and senior communication major Carl Marcelo, GENseng has produced many readings of Asian American works, all of which explore issues related to ethnic identity and conflict, as well as universal themes underlying human relationships.

For more information about the performances or the GENseng series, contact Kaplan in the SUNY Geneseo School of Performing Arts, by phone at (585) 245-5806, or by e-mail at kaplanr@geneseo.edu.

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