Our Life After pays tribute to the Vietnamese refugees of the past 35 years. Given that 2010 marks the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, Cal VSA wanted to take this year’s show to honor the spirit, perseverance, and hope of this Vietnamese diaspora.
Culture Show 2010 tells three unique yet also universal stories of Vietnamese families following the Vietnam War. Each interconnected story possesses its own values in terms of the issues and themes that are addressed. While these stories are from the Vietnamese refugee experience, they can also be related to by anybody who has gone through either an immigrant or refugee experience.
Act I explores the story of a family who has been separated for many years due to the father’s internment in a re-education camp. Once they are reunited again in America after many years, issues arise between the father, Nam, and his daughter, Mai, who are unable to find a way to connect to one another. The mother, Hoa, tries her best to act as a means of communication between the two. It is a story that addresses issues of identity and generation gaps.
Act II is about a mother, Tuyet, who struggles to keep her family together while adjusting to a new and foreign land. While she is away at work and night school, her father, Ong Ngoai takes cares of her two daughters, Van and Truc, at home. Time and separation from one another begins to take a toll on the family, and Tuyet faces the difficult choice of how best to support her family while still being there for them. This story explores the question of how much is too much assimilation and the importance of retaining one’s culture.
Act III tells the story of a young woman, Huong, separated from her love by distance. She then undergoes horrendous experiences while at a refugee camp at the hands of a man, Thanh, yet perseveres through all her tribulations. Huong’s strength and perseverance resonate the feelings of hope of the Vietnamese refugees who have had to cross great distances by boat in treacherous conditions for a glimpse of a better life. These ideas of strength, perseverance, and hope echo throughout this story.
All together, these three interconnected stories speak to an idea of universality of experience. Though each of these families has gone through different struggles, they are all united in this common journey that is the Vietnamese refugee experience. It is this experience that Cal VSA wishes to recognize and honor in the 2010 Culture Show.