Yellow Dress: a short film Directed by Kristen Johnson won the Best Short Film Award
LOGLINE: An ambitious Asian adopted mother attempts to balance her rising pre-pregnancy theatre career and raising a toddler. However, she continuously compares his youth to hers, which invites eager ghosts that torment her.
Riss Goodwin is mother, wife, and a reinvented actress who resumes her dreams to get to Hollywood and become a famous actress. She is therefore excited to audition for Medea the Musical in Chinatown, an avant garde iteration with music. However with in-laws coming in five hours with a two hour audition process, counting traffic, she is severely pressed for time.
As she jumps into her work she hears “the wheels on the bus go round and round” and her world alters and she grows younger and younger. In this undesired memory, Riss becomes the child version of herself, Rachel. Rachel and her brother Sang Duk were paid off to be owned by an orphanage. The children screamed for their father and the musicality of the screams push Riss back to reality she is surreal. Her eyes land on on the “wheels on the bus.” Riss fiercely turns the program off. She knows she must stay on task.
She looks around the house and grows sick by the mess a toddler can create. But with love for both her husband and son, she does her best to tidy up. Once she enters into Hosu’s (meaning lake in Korean) playroom, she grows envious by the abundance of his toys, books, and play items. She locates a book given to her at her baby shower, titled: BiBimBop - a Korean rice dish and takes a moment to read. She wants to wean away her ghosts.
However as she moves through the pages, she is jerked inside another memory. This time a ghastly series of events leave her naked with black and blue eyes. She is crying and in severe pain. Riss remembers this moment vividly. A friendly outcast brings Rachel clothes and carries her out.
We see Rachel shortly afterwards, staring in a mirror looking at herself in a ripped, tattered and stained yellow dress. She utters yellow dress, growing happier with each utterance. She smiles. Rachel sees herself for the very first time.
About the Director: Kristen Johnson is a director and actor from West Texas, now working in Chicago by way of Minnesota. Most recently, she directed the world premier of Night Safariby Tracy Letts for The Gift Theatre’s TEN Festival and Vaclav Havel’s Protestfor Haven Theatre. A lover of new plays, Kristen has worked on half a dozen world premiers and directs almost exclusively works by living playwrights. Be it through the playwright, casting, or framing of a piece, bringing under-represented voices to the stage is a core value of her work. In Chicago, Kristen has had the privilege of working with Steep Theatre (Bobbie Clearly), Gift Theatre (Grapes of Wrath, A Long Arduous Journey), Route 66 Theatre (The Downpour), Rasaka Theatre/Victory Gardens (A Nice Indian Boy), Redtwist Theatre (Look Back in Anger), Step Up Productions (Christmas Armaments), Broken Nose Theatre (Options), Commission Theatre (Clearing), No Passport Festival (Archipelago), and Sankofa Theatre (American Beauty Shop,Fifth Planet) among others. Kristen is a graduate of Carleton College, School at Steppenwolf, NTI, and BADA. She is a recipient of the Director’s Haven Fellowship, winner of the Ann Goodson Weiner Award in Dramatic Arts, and semi-finalist for the Directors Inclusion Initiative at Victory Gardens. When not working on or back stage, Kristen is directing, acting, and dabbling in film.
Behind the scene