Performance artist Kristina Sheryl Wong may be deeply involved in the arts scene in her adopted home city of Los Angeles, but inside the San Francisco native’s chest beats a Bay Area heart. In explaining her newest show, she echoes a phrase that’s ubiquitous on East Bay bumpers: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
“I’ll listen to KPFK,” says Wong, referring to the LA-area public radio station, “and I’ll just start shaking. We’re just being so duped, and I don’t know what to do. It’s so scary that people don’t know … people are able to ignore it until it becomes their problem. That concerns me. How much more can I keep fighting, and how much more — it’s already hard enough to get my own work out there, let alone try to work on top of it.”
Lately, Wong’s time — already very well spent, as evidenced by her Web sites, KristinaSherylWong.com and her mail-order bride parody, the brutal but hilarious BigBadChineseMama.com — has been further monopolized by the fight to save the LA Cultural Affairs Department. Now that Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn is laying down doublespeak about what will be funded and what won’t, Wong is trying to figure out what to do next. She has a grant pending for the fall, and in lieu of that, she’s researching everything from grad school to stand-up comedy, a range that reflects the aesthetic of a woman who takes life’s absurdities very seriously. The title of her latest show, Free?, asks “everything from, are we free from our own emotional personal baggage? Are we free as Americans? Are we free from our own racial identity and our gender? When can we transcend it, when can’t we? Hopefully, in the show, I transcend that, at least for the moment, in the theater space. I hopefully transcend all that stuff, and the audience will just leave having had a good time, but with some food for thought. Free, yes or no?”
Wong performs Free? at 8 p.m. Saturday, with Ova Saopeng’s LSL: Lao as a Second Language, at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Free? is $10 for adults, $5 for students. Info: 510-849-2568.