The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G
By Jacob Krueger
The Vampire Cowboys’ new play, THE INEXPLICABLE REDEMPTION OF AGENT G, is more than just a hilarious genre bending, kick-ass-ninja-stage-fighting, comic book romp. It’s also a profound look at what it means to find and follow your voice as a writer, the inexplicable questions of identity and the challenge of telling a true story in a truthful way.
Theatre’s Answer To ADAPTATION
The process of adapting a true story into a form that really captures its essence is one of the most challenging tasks of any writer. In AGENT G, playwright Qui Nguyen wrestles for the third time with a reinterpretation of his first play, TRIAL BY WATER, the critically reviled “true-life” melodrama of his 9 year old cousin’s journey from Vietnam to America– during which their boat was lost at sea, and the passengers, including Qui’s young cousin, resorted to cannibalism to survive
Feeling that he has failed to capture the essence of the story in his earlier attempts at the play, Qui (who is also a character in AGENT G) attempts to reinterpret the story Vampire Cowboys style– complete with the theatre company’s requisite kick ass stage combat, ninja chases, hilarious genre shifts, and a musical showdown with Qui’s hero, the legendary playwright David Henry Hwang. In wonderful and surprising ways, this comic reinterpretation leads Qui closer to the “true truth” of the story than any of Qui’s more serious early attempts.
What Does It Mean To Tell The Truth?
At each step of the way toward this “truthful” telling of the story, Qui finds himself confronted by his characters, his fans, his mentors and even his wife– each of whom have their own ideas of what the play should be, and each of whom he desperately wants to please. As Qui strips away the layers of smoke, mirrors and self deception to find his real story, he’s forced to confront what it really means to be a writer, and what it takes to look honestly, and fiercely, at one’s own writing.
In his attempts to write a “commercial” piece, build the story around his hook, please his teachers, emulate his heros, impress his audience, honor his cousin and to answer the well-meaning, but misguided notes of people who didn’t really understand his writing, Qui comes to realize that he abandoned the essential truth that brought him to the story in the first place– not just in this amped up, tongue in cheek, action hero reinterpretation of the story– but also in the “true story” melodrama he was once so proud of.
Following The Truth Of Your Own Story
As Qui strips away the layers of art and artifice that obscure him from the story he truly wants to tell, he reminds us that writing is not a paint by numbers process of “filling in the beats” of your outline, but a mystical and complex journey through countless rewrites, reimaginings, and reinterpretations of what the real story might actually be. He reminds us of the dangers of the wrong way turns of misguided feedback and the challenges we go in getting to truly know our characters, our stories, and ourselves each time we approach the blank page. And most of all, he reminds us the mysterious and inevitable process which with each draft slowly draws us closer to the truth of our own story, our own voices, and our own inexplicable redemptions.