A Children’s Theatre Company Original World Premiere Production
Bina’s family grows the finest apples in all of Korea. But when war forces her to flee her home, Bina is alone in the world with just six precious apples to her name. Can these meager possessions help her find her family?
Join Bina on her journey that ranges from the heartbreaking to the humorous. Encountering new challenges at every turn, Bina is forced to rely upon her apples and their meaningful legacy as she begins to discover the power of her own resilience. Often mesmerizing, always heartwarming, Bina realizes she’s not the only one on a difficult quest for a place to call home.
A co-production with the Alliance Theatre
Written by Lloyd Suh
Directed by Eric Ting
About the Show
- Bina’s Six Apples is a play featuring a small group of adult and student actors.
- This production takes place on our Cargill Stage, which seats up to 298 people per performance.
- We know that teachers are the best judge to determine the right fit for their unique group of students. We recommend Bina’s Six Apples for students in grades 5–12 due to length and themes of this performance. Check out the synopsis and content advisories for full information.
Language: 2 out of 5 stars
Jinsoo tells to “shut up” when the brothers argue. Characters discuss war and hardship.
Themes and Situations: 5 out of 5 stars
Bina and her family leave their town due to war and walk 70 miles to a safer village in southern Korea. Bina leaves behind a doll she loves so that she is able to carry more food for her family. Bina travels alone through war-torn areas of Korea to find her family.
Violence & Scariness: 4 out of 5 stars
War sounds and explosions are heard. Bina’s family is separated because of an explosion and Bina must continue to travel alone. Bina meets a soldier who carries a gun. He briefly points the gun at her until he realizes she is just a little girl. Bina walks through a war-torn village and sees evidence of war including remnants of explosions, fires, ash, blood, and dead bodies.
Sensory Advisories: 4 out of 5 stars
Sounds of explosions and war will be heard, along with flashing lights and sudden darkness. Fire effects may be used onstage. These are contained and professionally managed.
Potentially Anxious Moments: 5 out of 5 stars
Bina loses her family and must travel alone. Bina meets many people including a soldier who said goodbye to his sister and a young boy who lost his mother.
This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers. This play is still in development. Content is subject to change until script is finalized.
At the Moon family’s apple orchard, Father is packing bags. 10-year-old Bina looks on and questions why the family needs to leave. Father tells her that the family is leaving because the fighting is getting too close and they will travel to Busan where the big blue ocean touches the southeast point of Korea, 70 miles from their home. Bina protests the long walk and leaving her home but Father insists. Bina exclaims that she hates the war and father agrees adding “that’s how the world is, it’s full of hateful things as much as it is full of things to love.”
Bina mourns the loss of her beloved tree-house and Father tells her that they will build a new one when it is safe. Bina insists on bringing her corn-husk doll on the journey. Father allows it as long as she is able to carry it herself and reminds her that she needs to start making good decisions on her own. Bina protests that she is not strong enough but Father encourages her by saying that when life is hard, you find out how strong you really are.
Father outlines the plan for each family member to carry something. Bina is in charge of carrying apples for the journey while Mama carries jars of vegetables and father carries rice. The twins Jinsoo and Yongsoo will carry pots for cooking and water while grandma Hamee is in charge of carrying the wisdom, which Father reminds them is the heaviest and most important.
Bina packs five apples into the knapsack but insists on carrying more. She decides to sacrifice bringing her cornhusk doll so she can carry more apples for the family to eat. She keeps one of the apples in her breast pocket so it is close to her heart during the journey. It feels important to have six apples because there are six people in her family.
Bina asks why the war is happening. Father explains that people are fighting about who gets to be in charge of things. There is currently no one in charge of the land but there are two different groups who want to change that. Bina asks which side their family is on but Father doesn’t know. He explains that their family is in charge of themselves and need to protect themselves. Bina accepts this answer even though she doesn’t fully understand and the family begins to walk.
The family walks through the mountains and tough terrain. Most of the family is clearly struggling under the load but Bina insists on helping. Unfortunately, this helping just makes it harder for everyone else. Bina notices that Mother is struggling under the weight of what she is carrying. She offers to help but Mom tells her a story of when she was little and made a similar journey. Bina’s grandfather died in the war and her family had to move from Seoul to Geochang. Mom offers to teach Bina some of the songs they would sing while they were walking and reminisces about finally arriving to their new home…the home they just left behind again.
Bina offers to help grandmother by bringing her some water but grandmother tells Bina to mind her own business. Bina offers to carry some of grandmother’s wisdom if she needs help carrying it. Hamee tells Bina that she would let Bina carry the wisdom if she had any to share, but now she only has bitterness, fatigue, and anger. She asks Bina to promise that when it is her turn to run the world, she will fix it so they don’t need to walk any more.
Suddenly, the family hears a faint whistle. Father yells for everyone to run right as an explosion rocks the mountainside.
After the explosion, Bina is alone and covered in ash. She yells for her family but can’t find them. She begins to panic when she realizes she can’t find her apples. Looking around, she gathers all the apples she can and is relieved to find them all. Her family is still missing. A young woman runs onstage and for a brief moment, Bina believes her to be her mother. The young woman also mistakes Bina for her child; they are both lost. They compare notes about what happened and where they are located. This woman is heading north whereas Bina was instructed to walk south. Bina tries to convince the woman to walk south where it is safe but the woman explains that she is searching for her daughter.
The woman begs Bina to share her apples. Bina is insistent that she must keep the apples for her family. The woman becomes combative and demands that Bina give her an apple, claiming that Bina’s family left her because they didn’t want her. She tells Bina about the horrors that await her in the journey and claims that Bina will never make it alone. Bina runs away.
Bina continues to climb through the mountains when suddenly a soldier sneaks up behind her with a gun. He demands that she put her hands in the air which causes her to drop her apples. When he realizes that she is a child, he drops the gun and Bina begins to cry. The soldier fights between the desire to help her and be suspicious of her. He accidently tells her that the gun is not loaded but then realizes that it was a mistake to tell her that. He introduces himself to her and reveals that he is lost from his brigade. Bina asks what side of the war he is on but the soldier says “the good guys.” Bina questions what that means. After some discussion, they decide that they are both on the same side, running from the soldiers invading from the north. Bina realizes that this is why her family was moving south and she decides to trust the soldier.
The soldier notices the apples and asks about them but this prompts more tears from Bina. Suddenly, her feelings are overflowing and she explains everything to the soldier. He reaches for his bag, which causes Bina to panic more, but he calms her nerves, assuring her that he isn’t reaching for his gun. Instead, he pulls out a cornhusk doll. He explains that it doesn’t belong to him so he will need it back but encourages Bina to hold it for a bit if it will make her feel better. He tells her that his sister made it and gave it to him for protection as he fights. He reveals that he didn’t get lost but ran away from the army to try to reunite with his sister.
The soldier teaches Bina how to look at the stars to find which way to go. The soldier is headed southwest but Bina is heading southeast. They decide to rest until the stars come out. The soldier asks if Bina would be willing to share her apples but she refuses. He is understanding and offers to share the cornhusk doll for Bina to hold while she rests.
While Bina is asleep, the soldier sneaks one of the apples from her bag. He thinks about just leaving but remembers he promised to show her the stars. Reluctantly, he wakes her up and shows her how to find the North Star. He is clearly in a hurry to leave before she notices the apple is gone. He offers to let her keep the doll and warns her to not go through a town called Youngsan. We hear explosions in the distance and Bina begins to panic. He offers for her to travel with him to his home but Bina refuses, insisting that her family will be looking for her. He wishes her luck and again reminds her to not travel through Youngsan.
The two part ways. Before leaving, Bina counts her apples and realizes that one is missing. It doesn’t take long for her to understand that he took one. She reassures herself that the apple he took was hers and she can save the rest for her family.
Bina comes upon a river after walking a long time. She drinks water and rests. She contemplates eating one of the apples and anxiously talks to herself. Suddenly, she sees a boat in the distance. The boatman pulls over to talk to Bina. He explains that he takes people down river for a small fee. Bina explains that she doesn’t have any money but the boatman asks about food. At first Bina refuses to give him any apples, but he explains the economy of the trade. She takes a moment to discuss the idea with the apple and ultimately decides to give one apple to the boatman in exchange for the journey downriver. Eventually, Bina gives him an apple as payment, then boards the boat and falls asleep.
The boatman wakes Bina when they reach the end of the journey. Just ahead is Youngsan and the boatman warns her not to go through that village. Bina becomes distressed when she realizes that it is morning, and without feeing the North Star in the night sky, she cannot find where she is going. The boatman encourages her to talk to a merchant.
When Bina steps off the boat, she asks the merchant which way to Busan. She offers to give Bina a map in exchange for an apple but Bina is hesitant. She asks the merchant if she saw her family cross the river, but the merchant explains that she has no ability to remember all the faces she has seen. When Bina asks about Youngsan, the merchant warns her to not go through the village but go around it. Bina begins to cry and the merchant explains that she cannot be swayed by a child’s tears when her own are gone. Bina decides to give her an apple and asks for the map and a potato in exchange. The merchant will not trade for both so Bina chooses the map over the potato.
Bina takes a moment to get her bearings and track the stars as the soldier taught her before walking on.
She takes a moment to sit just outside of Youngsan. She lines up the apples and talks to them about whether she should go around the town as she was advised or if she should take the risk and go through. She decides to go through Younsan and eat one of the apples for energy.
As Bina walks through the little town, it gets worse and worse. Hollowed out buildings, broken wood, and small patches of fires. She sees a dead animal and blood before seeing remnants of an explosion. Soon she starts to see dead bodies and the air grows thick with dust. She covers her face and walks on.
In the rubble, she finds a boy of about 6-years-old sitting in front of a structure that must have been his home at one time but is now only a pile of debris. He tells Bina that his mother told him to wait for her and that she is coming back. Bina asks where she went but the boy refuses to tell. He becomes scared and tells her there is nothing left to steal. Bina asks how long he has been sitting out there but he doesn’t know. He explains that soldiers from both sides raided the town and took everything that was there, including some people. They took his mother, but she asked him to stay at the house until she was able to return. We learn that the boy’s name is Hyunsoo and Bina offers him an apple. He is skeptical of her kindness but eventually takes it. She promises to come back to check on him after she finds her family and gives him her map. She instructs him to walk over to the river to drink and trade with the merchant. She also gives him her bag and shares with him the same motivational words her father gave her before they left their home.
Bina continues on her way and begins to worry that her family is waiting for her somewhere, like Hyunsoo is waiting for his family. She panics that she only has one apple left. To comfort herself, she begins to daydream about Father cutting the last apple into six pieces for them to enjoy together. Bina falls asleep.
She wakes up to the sound of Hamee singing. At first, Bina believes it is a dream but her grandmother assures her that she is not dreaming. The rest of the family awakes and they recount the story of looking for Bina and then following in her footsteps, meeting the same people she met a day earlier. They tell her that they met the boatman, the merchant, and finally Hyunsoo and his mother, who finally arrived. Everyone they met talked about how delicious the apples were! Bina tells them that she only has one apple left. They are impressed that she was able to save one, as they lost all their food along the way. They all eat the apple together.
“Bina’s Six Apples is rooted in family lore. It is inspired by my parents, in what they experienced as children during the Korean War, but it is equally inspired by my kids – not just in the remarkable differences in how they’re growing up, but in the similarities, too. My greatest ambition for the play is that it speaks to both generations: their emotions, their imaginations, their sense of discovery and journey towards empathy. The play was written for young audiences, of course – but also for their parents and grandparents.”
– Playwright Lloyd Suh