Summerworks-- Sook-Yin Lee and Benjamin Kamino in A Multimedia Dream


How Can I Forget?

Conceived and proposed by Sook-Yin Lee

Made and performed by Sook-Yin Lee and Benjamin Kamino

With the assistance of Adam Litovitz

Co-directed by Erika Batdorf

(Lower Ossington Theatre)




Sook-Yin Lee’s How Can I Forget? is aptly subtitled “A Multimedia Dream.” As the piece begins, a man and a woman are wrapped together, back to back, in wide plastic sheeting. At the back of the stage, a large screen now depicts the same two people. They seem to be packing or unpacking, and getting materials from a basement.

In this simple opening Lee shows some of her many strengths: the visuals are stunning and casual, mixed; the tension—between an imaginary past or future, and the present on the stage—creates suspense. And the work’s premise and structure—film, dance, poetic and philosophical speech and aphorisms— and metaphors have been deployed for our enjoyment. The ties between people (plastic wrapping, collaborating), the subconscious (material in the basement), memory (on film and in stories told), and a process of linked but discrete sequences have been set in motion.

Lee and Kamino both have powerful stage presence, bringing different kinds of strengths to their roles. Lee is a former VJ for MuchMusic, with a kind of star shine that supports her work as a performance artist and helps to make her pieces more accessible to a wider audience. Benjamin Kamino is a choreographer, performance artist and dancer who has danced with several major companies, whose commanding and elegant work is known across the country.

Lee’s narrative arc is—as stories in dreams tend to be—a broken and looping one. The speed of the action varies, from frenetic to meditative or purposeful. The man and the woman unwrap themselves from the length of plastic, and it becomes in turn a membrane, a curtain, and a carpet, while other “memories” appear and disappear on the video screen.




“What I’m doing makes you scared,” Lee sing-speaks, as she stands on Kamino’s back; he rises and they struggle back and forth with the plastic, making a rustling, artificial noise, until the screen fills with Lee, exposed to what feels like fall weather in just a bra and pants, as a strong wind blows her cape over her face.

During most of the show, Kamino is a supportive (if at times fractious) partner—while Lee explores questions of identity and the mutability of the self. She tells anecdotes. Lee had an acting role that felt so powerful and overwhelming that she forgot who she really was. A friend invaded and hid in an ex-boyfriend’s apartment in a display of uncharacteristic aggression. Things happen and overlay one’s sense of balance, and of self.

Suddenly, Lee and Kamino are engaged in a conversation about philosophies of being, past lovers and performances. Lee asks Kamino to teach her to dance. And in a moving, uplifting sequence that lasts about seven minutes, Kamino, with intense and generous instruction, teaches Lee to dance. Lee practices and practices, then dances the sequence Kamino has taught her.

“Did that work?” he asks.