And we come to the end…
31 Asian American Plays in 31 Days
#31 VIETGONE by Kwee Gwen
The waning days of the Vietnam War, refugees leaving their lives behind—it’s the stuff of sobering news stories, right? Not always. In this brash new comedy, three young Vietnamese immigrants make their way through the bewildering landscape of 1970s America, a land filled with incomprehensible language, awkward customs, and a canvas as big as a Hollywood movie. At turns hilarious, profane, exuberant, and unexpectedly touching, Vietgone uses audacious dialogue, pop culture and an action-packed road trip to breathe life into the stories of these strangers in a strange land.
I’ve written extensively about VIETGONE before…and I guess I’ll blather on….in a lot of ways, this play draws upon the five decades of Asian American theatre that preceded it…you can see traces of Frank Chin’s defiance and determination to define the world on its own terms. You see real Asian American characters owning their sexualities (in all their wacky ways) as in Sex in Seattle. And you see the clear influences of David Hwang in the borrowing of literary devices and attitudes. All of it blended with its own sensibility, rooted in modern 21st Century cultural beats. A nice harbinger for future and emerging Asian American theatre artists to come…
Oh, and VIETGONE won the 2016 American Theater Critics Association Harold and Mimi Steinberg Award for Best New Play and was a Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.
South Coast Repertory Theatre 2015
by Qui Nguyen
Directed by May Adrales
Raymond Lee, Maureen Sebastian, Jon Hoche, Samantha Quan, Paco Tolson