PRIMAL: A Monologue For Our Times

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021 12 – 1 pm

The University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood
Chicago, IL 60637

Kenjiro Lee, UChicago Class of 2020, performs PRIMAL, a short play he wrote for the Zoom environment.

Join Lee for this cathartic, participatory performance, presented by the Smart Museum as part of the initiative Beyond Pomp and Circumstance to the Problems of Our Time.

FREE, please register for the Zoom link.

Disclaimer: PRIMAL involves an awful lot of shouting, on the performer's part and partially on your part. Be prepared to scream, but take care of your voice. Notify any housemates or neighbors of what you’re about to do. The performance will be recorded.



Last July, I was given the following assignment by one of my playwriting teachers: write a play a day for five days. These plays could be as long or short as we wanted, and could literally be about anything. PRIMAL is one of those plays—the third, if I’m remembering correctly. At that point it’d been four months since I left Hyde Park for the foreseeable future, and I’d spent most of those four months sitting in a chair and staring at a screen. I was restless, I was depressed, I was itching to write something in response to the current moment. And that’s when the idea hit me: I wanted to write a play where I screamed into a megaphone about how stressed I was.

July seems like ages ago, doesn’t it? I mean, a lot has happened in America since July: there was a presidential election, a vaccine is finally within our reach, the balance of power shifted in the Senate, and there was an attempted coup (and most of that was only in the last month). It almost feels like we’re dealing with a different world. Well, not exactly—I and my fellow Class of 2020 grads still missed out on a senior spring and an in-person graduation. And most of us are still stuck at home, waiting for all of this to be over. Yet there’s one thing that’s stayed constant in most of our minds since July: the primal urge to scream.

PRIMAL is an invitation to unleash that urge for an all-too-brief moment. I will be screaming. You will be screaming. It will be loud. It will be disorganized. And maybe, just maybe, it will be cathartic.
–Kenjiro Lee