‘Sweatshop Overlord’ tells the story about how one woman, armed with a sewing machine found meaning and connection during a global pandemic
Last week, I attended Opening Night of Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City and it brought me back to the heart of the global pandemic and how we all struggled with coping and with feeling useful and connected during such a tragic time in our world’s history.
At the beginning of the pandemic when masks were scarce, comedic Asian American actress and Pulitzer Prize finalist Kristina Wong tapped into her lifelong sewing skills to start making face masks out of old bed sheets and bra straps on her weathered Hello Kitty sewing machine. Once she realized that she couldn’t manage this ominous task alone, she turned to the Facebook and to friends and family to ask for help. From this outreach effort, she quickly created the ‘Auntie Sewing Squad’, a grassroots work-from-home sweatshop of hundreds of volunteers across the country that worked tirelessly together to contribute to the mask dearth during the pandemic.
Wong’s one woman show takes us back in time to the heart of the pandemic when most of us felt isolated, sacred, alone and afraid of what was happening around us. She uses humor, clever anecdotes and relevant historical references to tell her story about how her group of cross country sweatshop aunties supported one another, laughed and cried together and made those difficult times meaningful and productive. Her ‘sweatshop’ gave these volunteers a sense of connection and purpose during some of the darkest days our world has seen in modern times.
As the demand for masks diminished and the world started to get back to a new normal, Kristina Wong decided to write down her story and created her one woman show in order to share her emotional journey of how she became a ‘sweatshop overlord.’ This story takes you back to the most difficult times of the pandemic while at the same time it highlights hope and optimism about how when people band together for good, the impact can change lives in the most incredible ways.
Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord is now playing a the Kirk Douglas Theatre through March 12, 2023
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