(page 1 of 4)
THEATER: More from Cat Brindisi and Sun Mee Chomet
Cat: I am so into self-producing right now. So many people are doing it and having so much success. It’s interesting to me how when you’re producing and constantly working you feel like you’re going crazy, but at the same time it’s feeding your soul.
Sun Mee: Yeah, it’s one of those things that is so much work, but in the end we’re doing what we love.
Cat: Exactly. I just couldn’t stand being in New York and realizing that auditioning was the job. I want theater to be my fulltime job.
Sun Mee: So how did you do it [for Hair]?
Cat: We raised all our funds with Kickstarter. We sold out every night—it was a pay-what-you-can—and went over what we thought we would make at the door, so it all equaled out. I mean, we’re not making anything, but that’s fine. From the beginning we just wanted to break even with our first show, and we’re going to, which is great. But yeah, “just” being an actor is a luxury. I can’t wait!
Sun Mee: It’s funny, because before you self-produce, you’re with all the actors and you commiserate with them. But then you start to produce and you’re like, “How does that artistic director do it? How does that person handle their budget?”
Cat: Yes! I look at all these theater companies and I don’t know how people are still alive! It’s so taxing.
Sun Mee: It’s so much work.
Cat: So how did you get connected to South Korea?
Sun Mee: I’m performing at the International Korean Adoptee Association (IKAA) conference. It’s a group of 700 adoptees from 17 countries; I’m the only one performing. Minnesota actually has more adoptees than any place in the world, so there’s a lot of arts about adoption happening here.
Cat: That’s so interesting! Our goal is to export and bring things in and out of Minneapolis. I think that’s the one really big void here: we actually don’t get a lot of international shows or guest directors coming in. I’m fascinated you have these connections.
Sun Mee: When you self produce, you just have to find those organizations and grants.
Minnesota Monthly: How did you both get into acting?
Cat: I got started young; both of my parents are in the arts. I went to school for musical theater in Duluth then went to New York and tried it out there for a bit, but it wasn’t quite my city. I didn’t really connect with anyone there. I was back and forth a lot, and now I’m here.
Minnesota Monthly: Is it tough being in the business as the daughter of Chanhassen Dinner Theater artistic director Michael Brindisi?
Cat: It’s been a challenge to fight against “director’s daughter,” but you get used to it and learn to twist it into a positive thing. My parents are actually two of my closest friends so it’s never been competitive. But I do choose to not work at Chan as much as I can. Even if I can prove it’s not nepotism, you feel like you’re constantly having to prove to yourself over and over. But once I started working with Theater Latte Da, I felt confident on my own.
Sun Mee: I got into it young. I went to a performing-arts high school in Fresno, California, that ended up giving birth to all this artistic life. It was 24/7 theater—a little Fame school. Then I went away from acting for undergrad—majored in sociology and anthropology, traveled a lot. I came here to the U for grad school, but I left because I wanted something bigger. I went to NYU for seven years and the whole time I kept dreaming about Minnesota! It was just not me. I grew up with skies and trees. I didn’t trust people there like I do here.
Cat: Yeah, I was nervous all the time there.
Sun Mee: I was so anxious! I actually came back to Minnesota to quit acting. I was running an insurance company because I was burned out. Then my friend Jeannie Park wrote a play (100 Men’s Wife) that was at the History Theater and the lead actress dropped out and Jeannie asked me to do it as a favor. I’m just now finding what my place is in theater.
Cat: I think it’s all choosing different things and making it come together. You have to find a way to be grounded in this crazy business; you have to figure out how to be happy. That’s really what it is.
Sun Mee: Sometimes you just happen upon things you’re meant to do, and you feel like it’s coming from an authentic place and people can feel that—that this is some type of calling.
Cat: That you’re meant to be there.
See Cat Brindisi in The Chronicles of Kalki at Mixed Blood Theater October 5–27 (mixedblood.com). See Sun Mee Chomet in How to Be a Korean Woman at Guthrie Theater September 19–22 (guthrietheater.org) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Ten Thousand Things theater October 10–November 3 (tenthousandthings.org).