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September 22, 2022

Soulpepper Perspectives: Q&A with Ins Choi, Bad Parent Playwright

We recently caught up with Kim’s Convenience creator Ins Choi, whose new play Bad Parent is making its World Premiere at Soulpepper Theatre this month. Following the run here Bad Parent moves on to Vancouver with the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, and then to Winnipeg at Prairie Theatre Exchange. Here’s what Ins is currently enjoying, thinking about, and looking forward to!

What work have you done at Soulpepper?          

I’ve been part of a bunch of shows at Soulpepper but my favourites were the ones I had a hand in creating: Alligator Pie, (re)birth: e.e. cummings in song, Window on Toronto, Kim’s Convenience.

What’s the best book you read over the past year?              

Crying in H-Mart (Michelle Zauner), Housekeeping (Marilynne Robinson), Pachinko (Min-Jin Lee), My Bright Abyss (Christian Wiman), Devotions (Mary Oliver). 

What can folks expect when they come to see Bad Parent?                   

Well, based on the audience’ response from the previews I attended, folks can expect to laugh, have fun, maybe cry, and if you attend with your partner you might elbow each other throughout the show as certain areas in your relationship are revealed on stage. 

Who are your favourite writers (in theatre or not)?                

I really enjoyed David Yee’s last play, Among Men. This theatre season in Toronto, I’m looking forward to seeing Vierge by Rachel Mutombo, The Waltz by Marie Beath Badian (Factory), our place by Kanika Ambrose (TPM),  The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale by Haley McGee (Soulpepper), Redbone Coonhound by Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton (Tarragon) and Mahabharata by Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes (whynot). 

What’s your happy place?               

Hiking in the woods with my wife (okay and the kids) with some good snacks knowing there’s a great lookout at the top of the mountain or cliff. And not that many people around. And we see a gang of elks or a moose or a bunch of wild turkeys or something like that. And the river flooded so, we had to build a makeshift bridge as a family to cross it and some of us got wet and one person twisted an ankle but it was fine in the end cuz we came together as a family to help each other. 10km loop… depending on the elevation. 

What’s your best parenting tip?           

Keep telling your partner you love them and that they’re doing a great job. Give the kids room and time to figure things out. Don’t be in such a hurry. Take that time to be with your kids. It’s always worth it. It’s a grind, for sure, but time moves so fast, and work will always be there in one form or another. You might even get a better opportunity because you said ‘no’ to that first one to be with your family. Who knows? Forgive yourself. 

Who was your parenting role model?               

My mom and dad. We car camped a lot. It felt like we spent a lot of time together laughing, playing games and my parents seemed happy doing what they felt they were called to do.

What is your current state of mind?                     

I saw David Bowie’s doc “Moonage Daydream” recently and in it he says, “I want to work well.” I think that’s how I’m currently feeling. Which means, for me, healthier personal practices like being in community, making friends, exercising, personal retreats, being more involved in the lives of my kids, going on dates with my wife,  engaging in meaningful work, mentoring and stepping into this senior artist season of my life. (I know. Already. Told you time moves so fast.) 

What was your happiest parenting moment?                              

When my daughter (22 monther at the time) decided to stop wearing diapers when she saw that her baby brother wore a diaper and her parents wore underwear. When my son (5, 6 at the time?) began to realize that he was funny. When my daughter learned how to ride a bike. When my son inadvertently made a very anxious friend feel welcomed on his first day of school. When I see them still play make-believe.

What is your most treasured possession?                           

Old printed family photos. Oh, and I used to have a locked briefcase with a bunch of sentimental things in it including the remains of my comic book collection. (The Amazing Spiderman #298, 299, 300, 301 … when Todd McFarlane started drawing Spiderman.) I say ‘used to’ cuz I recently tried to open it to show my kids but forgot the combination number and had to destroy the briefcase to get to the comic books. 

What is your favourite spot to eat near Soulpepper?                 

Here’s a few of my favourite items to eat near Soulpepper: I love the jerk chicken pastry pocket thingamabobber they sell at Soulpepper, the Taro milk tea with tapioca at Palgong, the cote de boeuf at Cluny  (a bit pricey but it can feed four), the guacamole at Catrin, the chicken pot pie at Brick Street, the fiori di zucca at Sud Forno Terroni (King and Sackville), and anything at Sukho Thai (Canary district, best Thai in the city). 

If you had a food truck, what would you serve?                         

My mom’s naengmyun (Korean cold noodle soup) in the summer with a strip of Galbi for $20. It’s better than Cho Sun Ok’s naengmyun which is touted as the best in Toronto. Cho Sun Ok’s is incredibly good but my mom’s is better. (My wife is also a culinary genius but a food truck isn’t her vibe.)

Bad Parent is on stage until October 9. Book your tickets today!