Hot Desk Extract: K - Box

As part of the Wheeler Centre's Hot Desk Fellowship programme, Ra Chapman worked on a play, K - Box, a surreal family comedy. 

K - Box tells a story of how a young woman, Lucy Thomas, suddenly finds herself inside and outside of a culture, stuck in between two worlds. This play draws from interviews with Korean adoptees and the common experiences of people who’ve always known they were adopted, but find themselves coming of age a second time, when they start to ask questions about their buried past, their adopted ‘whiteness’, and what they might’ve lost along the way. K - Box explores how inclusion can exclude parts of us, and what happens when you dare to address the elephant in the room, with the people you love.

Lucy has fled her collapsing life in Melbourne to stay with her parents Shirley and George, in country town, Mt Gamba. In her old room, Lucy discovered an empty cardboard box – one she had always thought was full of childhood memories, but is now completely empty.

What happened to her stuff? Who threw it out? What was in there anyway?

Blurred photograph of a patio

Image: Scott Limbrick (modified from a photo by Grether Carlos, CC-BY-SA 2.0)

THE OUTDOOR PATIO – A couple of bottles of wine and half-drunk wine glasses. 
KIM and LUCY’s heads are in the BOX, their bums sticking out.

LUCY
Just there.

KIM
Where?

LUCY
There in the bottom corner.

KIM
What am I looking for exactly?

LUCY
It’s like a squiggle.

KIM
A squiggle?

LUCY
Yeh, a blue squiggle.

KIM
I can’t see anything, it’s too dark.

LUCY
It’s right there. Can’t you see it? 

KIM
Maybe if you could – can you just – I think you’re blocking the light.

LUCY backs out of the BOX.

LUCY
Can you see it now?

KIM
I don’t really know what I’m – huh! … A blue squiggle!

LUCY
See, see I told you.

KIM
It’s so tiny. Wait a sec … Is that … ?

LUCY
What – what is it?

LUCY moves forward and tries to look inside the BOX.

KIM
Lucy, I can’t see you’re –

LUCY
What is it – what have you found?

KIM
I think …

KIM tilts his head then turns the BOX around.

KIM
Shit, it does.

LUCY
What?!

KIM
It says jib!

KIM backs out of the BOX. LUCY and KIM are now standing in front of the BOX.

LUCY
Jib? … What’s, what – what’s Jib, what does that mean?

KIM
Jib. It means house or home. In Korean. You must’ve written it in the bottom of this, cubby house thing when you were little.

Pause.

LUCY
Are you sure?

LUCY sticks her head back in the BOX.

LUCY
Are you sure it’s not just … a squiggle?

KIM
No, it’s Hangul. It’s the symbol for home in Korean. What did your dad call it? 

LUCY
Huh?

KIM
Your dad, at dinner, what did he call it … Chip?

LUCY
Yea, Mr Chip. Apparently I called it Mr Chip or Ship or Shippy, no-one really knows.

KIM
Chip, ship … jib? Sounds similar … Maybe you were saying home, in Korean.

Pause.

KIM
Do you remember writing it?

LUCY shakes her head.

KIM
What do you remember?

LUCY
Not much.

KIM
Do you remember anything from back then?

LUCY
Not really.

KIM
You were about four, yeah?

LUCY
Mhmm.

KIM
Most kids start to talk when they’re about, what? Two? That means you would’ve been speaking Korean for two whole years before you came here yeah, trotting around who knows where in Korea jabbering away in a language you now can’t speak.

LUCY
I guess so …

KIM
Fuuuck. That’s such a trip! You had this whole other life, this whole other world you belonged to, not to mention you spoke a completely different language. Doesn’t that spin you out?

LUCY
I’ve never really thought about it like that before …

KIM
God, I have so many memories from when I was a kid, clear as day – you really don’t have any? 

LUCY
No, I don’t, I don’t think so.

KIM
You really can’t remember anything at all? 

LUCY
No, I just told you, I can’t remember, ok?! Jesus – are you trying to make me feel shit right now? 

KIM
Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to … It’s just – I can’t believe that you – sorry.

KIM and LUCY stare at the BOX.

Portrait of Ra Chapman

Ra is an actress, theatre maker and writer. She has recently been selected for the 2018 Cinespace/Film Victoria StoryLab Program, and was a member of the 2017 Besen Writers Group at Malthouse Theatre.

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