On March 18th, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre celebrated the opening night of Vietnam Project II: Past and Present at the West End Theatre. Continuing their pioneering tradition of presenting bilingual productions, the series offers two productions from Vietnamese-American Playwrights: WE ARE written and directed by Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc, a bilingual production, performed in Vietnamese and English, incorporating the traditions of Vietnam's rich cultural past, and Monster by Derek Nguyen and directed by Kaipo Schwab, an English language modern day detective drama.
Vietnam Project II launched on March 18th with We Are. Featuring an international cast from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and North America, WE ARE fuses Vietnamese legend and traditional theatrical techniques such as Cai Luong (southern style of opera), and movement. WE ARE introduces five powerful female characters in five chapters that explore the historical legacy of Vietnamese women who marry or work abroad. We Are features Lê Khanh, Thái-Hòa Lê, Ngoc Dang, Leon Le, Nguyen Thi Minh Ng?c, Chantal Thuy, Tienne Vu and Nancy Eng. The scenic design is by Kim Tran; costume design by Bao Tron Chi; and lighting design by Ji-youn Chang. The music by Tr?nh Cong Son is performed by singer Kim Minh and guitarist Duc Tri. The translation is by Ian Bui. We Are runs through March 26th.
Monster plays March 30th - April 17th. Set in the California desert suburb of Sun Valley, Detective Tran investigates the disappearance of a Vietnamese high school student following a brutal hate crime-but as the case unfolds, he discovers that nobody is completely innocent...not even himself. Monster is a surreal contemporary film-noir play that intermixes truth with fact. A journey in which perspective manipulates objectivity and guilt fuses with innocence. Playwright Derek Nguyen, who identifies as both an American and a Vietnamese "boat person," began writing Monster when the Columbine massacre dominated the headlines and when the U.S. was reflecting on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. Monster features Daniel Lê as Detective Tran, Deanna Gibson, Justin R. G. Holcomb, Tonia Jackson, Brad Lewandowski, Patricia Randell, Claro de los Reyes, and Tran T. Thuc Hanh. The scenic design is by Gian Marco Lo Forte; costume design by Carol Pelletier; lighting design by Ji-youn Chang and video coordinator is Rocco D'Santi.
"We are proud to present this 2nd installment of our Vietnam Project," says Tisa Chang, Artistic Producing Director of Pan Asian Rep. "We Are is informed by traditional Vietnamese legend and presentational styles. Monster is a contemporary story with Vietnamese Americans at its center reflecting the vestiges of the Vietnam War. So we have subtitled this year's Vietnam Project Past and Present. Two plays that are centuries apart in their inspiration, but joined together by one rich culture."
WE ARE is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Pan Asian is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; Queens Council member Peter Koo; Shubert and Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundations. Educational programs are supported, in part, by MetLife Foundation and Con Edison.
Pan Asian Rep's Vietnam Project II: Past and Present runs at the West End Theatre (263 W. 86th Street between Broadway & West End Avenue in the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew, 2nd floor) March 18 - April 17. We Are will run March 18th - 26th; Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30PM with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 3PM. Monster plays March 30th - April 17th; Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30PM with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30PM. Via Subway, take the 1 train to 86th Street. Tickets are $45 with discounts available during Community Nights, Previews, and for seniors and students, call OvationTix at 212-352-3101. Group discounts are available by calling 212-868-4030. For more information about Vietnam Project II, Pan Asian Rep and a schedule of weekday student matinee performances for middle and high school students, visit www.PanAsianRep.org.
Photos by H. E. Yhoman, unless noted otherwise.
Thai-Hoa Le, Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc and Leon Le
(top, l-r) - Tisa Chang, Chantal Thuy, Ngoc Dang, Nancy Eng, Tienne Vu; Bottom row left to right: Thai-Hoa Le, Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc, Leon Le
WE ARE opening night curtain call. Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc with Tisa Chang. Photo by Lee Corky 002
Jennifer Than Hanh, Thai-Hoa Le, Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc, Ngoc Dang, Leon Le, Chantal Thuy, Nancy Eng, Tienne Vu
Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc and Tisa Chang
Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc, Tisa Chang, and Teresa Eyring
The casts of WE ARE and MONSTER celebrate opening night of Pan Aisan Rep's Vietnam Project II: Past and Present
The cast of Monster. (top, l-r) Daniel Le, Kaipo Schwab, Justin R. G. Holcomb, Tran T. Thuc Hanh, Patricia Randell, Brad Lewandowski. (front, l-r) Claro de los Reyes, Tonia Jackson, Deanna Gibson, Derek Nguyen.