Picture turning into a winged creature or being transported to a beach and meeting your child self. It’s hard to imagine those events taking place on a stage, let alone as part of a production that grapples with complex themes of queerness and self-discovery. But somehow, junior Sophie Kim has led audiences into this world of magic and despair in “SWAN,” an award-winning play that premiered this month at Boston New Works Festival.
The “fantastical, darkly comedic retelling of ‘Swan Lake’” — awarded the 2022 Phyllis Anderson Prize for Playwriting by the American Repertory Theater — follows Richard, a Korean American college student, and Aiden, a YouTube star whose channel espouses traditional values.
“Both are forced to confront their fears of the future, the queerness they’ve buried, and their need to be who they truly are, even if that means becoming monstrous,” the play’s description reads.
“They’re also haunted,” Kim said. “They start being haunted by this voice in their heads called Swan, which is in the vein of ‘A Christmas Carol’ but more creepy. Like Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’ meets Tan France.”
Aiden, a YouTube “tradwife” and closeted trans man, makes a living by dressing up as a 1950s housewife, showing off his devotion to femininity, and serving his handsome “straight” boyfriend. Richard, also a closeted trans man, finds Aiden’s videos and their lives become entangled.
“They are like separate car crashes that intersect,” Kim said.