Upcoming Shows - In the Works:

January 29, 2012
Sunday 5-7pm
Latino Theater Company Play Reading
Los Angeles Theater Center
514 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

March 13, 2012
UCLA Asian American Studies 187A
Professor Valerie Matsumoto
"Exploring Ethnic Cultural Arts through Oral History"

March 29, 2012
Thursday 6:30-9:30pm
Break the Silence Open Mic held at
The Manazar Gamboa Community Theater
1323 Gundry Ave. Long Beach, CA, 90813

April 4, 2012
Wednesday 11-1pm
Cal Arts in Valencia
Theater History
Professor Chantal Rodriguez E108

Los Angeles, CA
Produced by TeAda Productions and The Latino Theater Company
May 31 - June 24, 2012
Thursday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 3pm
General $30|Students/Seniors/Groups: $20
Los Angeles Theater Center
514 S. Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Fall 2012-Portland, OR
Fall 2012-Vermont
Stay tuned for times and locations.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A miracle is happening in Alaska!

We are so excited!We’re going to be BIG in Anchorage! No small feat! With the amazing help of our presenter Mike Huelsman of OUTNORTH, we’ve made contact with two community organizers who are AMAZING! Toc, a young Laotian go-getter and Lee a passionate Hmong social worker, trusted leaders and STRONG WOMEN in their communities, are by our side! Today we had the most amazing conference call, a crazy daisy chain in and of itself. The call included Mike, Toc, Lee, AND May Lee Yang our Hmong collaborating artist and translator, Ova and Leilani and OUTNORTH staff. I don’t’ think we’ve ever had so much support before even arriving in a city. We are going to Anchorage on Friday, a weekend before our performances to do outreach and our schedule is packed with workshops and appearances. So much so that we are going to have to split up, Ova and Leilani with Toc to meet with Lao community, May Lee with Lee to meet with Hmong community. AND we will be conducting workshops and doing an assembly for a local Middle School.

I have to share two stories that also came out of this planning meeting.

THE STORY IS BEING SHARED ALREADY - Lee has a son that goes to the middle school we will be working with. He came home with a notice about a REFUGEE NATION workshop. He told his mom he didn’t sign up because “we’re not refugees.” WELL, his mom set him straight. She then shared his legacy by telling her son all about his parents and grandparents struggle through tragedy and escape from Laos. The conversation ended with, Lee’s son saying “Oh, okay, then I guess I’ll sign up for this.”

TRANSLATION – we considered the question about translating our flier into Hmong and Lao. Lee informed us that well, most of the Hmong who recently arrived in Anchorage don’t read Hmong, some maybe read Lao, most read THAI. Well of course, we realized, the new wave of refugees have been living in THAI refugee camps for maybe 20 or 30 years. So then, what do we do? Well, we are going to need to do THREE translations – Lao, Hmong AND THAI! I wont mention that we ought to do Kmai too… but we’ll save that for another day.

So the preparations for Refugee Nation to take Alaska continue… - Leilani

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Refugee Nation
Written and performed by Leilani Chan and Ova Saopeng
Based on the stories of Laotian Refugees in the U.S.

November 9, 10, 11, & 12, 2007
@ OUTNORTH, Anchorage, Alaska

November 16 & 17, 2007
@ Bunnell Street Gallery, Homer, Alaska

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Price of Hard Work

Creating art is hard work. Performing art is hard work. Producing art is hard work. I've been thinking about our recent performance in Boston. This is hard work, man. I mean to coordinate and make it all happen...there needs to be more funding, human support because it seems we are always short on funds, staff, human power?! How do we do this then you ask? Is it a labor of love...yes. Is it just that we are crazy...maybe. We feel our work is important. Necessary. Vital. For us, for you, for others. What do we get out of it? Money...hahahahaha...not really. So what's the price of hard work. Well, all that hard work does pay off. It's called fulfillment unmatched beyond dollars as we make new friends, fans and supporters along the way. It's about changing, enlightening, openness. It's life.

Speaking of hard work. I want to thank Mrs. Phitsamay Sychitkokhong Uy (that's a real tough family name to remember and spell?! Hey, Phitsamay, did you know that you are also a young man in MN and wanted by the Shelton police in CT???) Search yourself. Anyway, again thank you for your passion, effort, giving, sharing and sacrifice. One person does not make it all happen...but one person can definitely do a lot to make it happen. For those who don't know Phitsamay she is a workaholic and she carries a heavy weight of work as the New England Coordinator for Legacies of War. She plays the role of wife, friend, educator, student, coordinator, concierge, host, spokesperson and a slew of many other roles that could go on forever. One key thing for her to realize: GET SOME REST! RELAX! You need to take care of yourself so you can work hard but effectively and with little stress as much as possible. Your well being is our well being!

Let me tell you a little bit about Leilani Chan and yes I'll be biased because she is my love, my life, my partner in all things. She is an artist. She has been giving opportunities for other artists in Los Angeles to grow, to blossom, to create. Now, that's hard work people. That's sacrifice. Refugee Nation has been a tough experience for her, as she desperately tries to keep TeAda Productions going forward at the same time dance the dance doing Refugee Nation while on the road. New York, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts. Realize my friends that Leilani Chan is the Founding Producing Artistic Director of TeAda Productions...without her drive to keep TeAda alive Refugee Nation would not exist. Many other programs and artists would not have happened. Yet, she is humble and keeps the challenges to herself. Money to pay others for their work...money she has helped to bring in by grant writing, fundraising to make art. Money that doesn't come on time so she can pay the artists...hey...this should be more than just about money. Art is about change. Creating art, giving someone the opportunity to perform, write, direct, workshop...that's hard work. What does she get for it? What does she get for it? How about some appreciation, peace of mind, future support...she needs it people. We all need that stuff. It makes us better people. It makes us better artists. It builds our community.

The price of hard work...isn't just money, it's fulfillment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boston Red Sox or Refugee Nation???

So, we are back in Los Angeles after a long yet successful stay in the Common Wealth known as Boston. Our performances on October 12 and 13 went extremely well considering the incredible competition we had that weekend with other events. Needless to say...audience attendance was dreary. How can one predict that the Boston Red Sox would be in the playoffs during the same time that we were performing Refugee Nation IN BOSTON!!!! And look right now they are down 2 games to 1 about to be ousted from the World Series by the Cleveland Indians. Why couldn't it have happened BEFORE our show! I appreciate the fervor of the fans but come on...get some culture people! I'm sure we could have had more attendance in CMAC, if the Red Sox were not in the playoffs. One less competition for us. This just goes to show; when it comes to sports entertainment or live theater...no questions it's very one sided. I wish we could have a fan base like that of the Red Sox...imagine seeing packed houses whereever we go and Refugee Nation fans shouting and screaming. Ahhhh...one battle at a time.

Nonetheless, all is not lost. Theater is alive and kickin'. Though we had a grim turn out what is important is the impact on our audiences. Refugee Nation is getting better and better as Leilani and I improve the show. We've added fight choreography, a new scene and video elements to the piece making it more rich with stories of struggle, survival and triumph. Truly we enlighten people about the Lao American experience. History, Healing and Hope. Drama and comedy interwoven in solid characters based on real people, real stories and full of life. Nothing beats talking and engaging with people after an amazing and engaging performance

Impact comes in many forms. 1. A Dorchester 7th grader from Harbor School commented that she related to Leilani's portrayal of a mother character crying after the state of the affairs of her son on the brink of being deported. "My uncle was deported back to Haiti and my mother would cry and cry." Would you believe it, here is a play about the Lao experience. yet it has universal connections to other cultures of America. 2. A discussion on the opinion of a Lowell Lao attendee who was disappointed at the negative role of the gangster character. She felt it was not a good view of the Lao community and expected more positive models...yet, if you see our show all the stories we share are positive. They tell of struggle and courage to survive the circumstances of war, assimilation, poverty and preservation of a lost Laos. That heated conversation simply brought us more legitimacy because it shows that theater provokes. I can't wait to share Refugee Nation with more Lao American audiences of all ages and hear those opinions. 3. Legacies of War exhibition in tandem with Refugee Nation is powerful to the core. Many people commented that after viewing the exhibition and seeing our performance they were educated, entertained and empathetic.

We are important. Our work is important. It is as important as the Red Sox are to Bostonians. As artists we are proud to have a role to make people wonder, think, reflect on life, on personal issues that relate to national issues that connect to global issues. Through our characters we challenge ourselves and the audience to hope, dream and overcome the odds. Performing art is alive.

We are tired. In our short time in Boston and Cambridge, we've done excerpts of our show at the opening reception for Legacies of War and Haggerty School, we've offered workshops at UMASS-Boston to students and 80 Harbor Middle School 7th graders, we've performed 2 full shows to very attentive and intellectual audiences and gave a dress rehearsal for 50 very lively, vocal and engaging 7th graders, AND in btw all of that find ways to outreach, drop post cards, connect with Boston Progress etc.etc.etc...people this is HARD WORK! We are immigrants with the heart of a citizen!

In our quest to bring this show to the Lao community and beyond. I still ask...where are the Lao? Where is the love? I want to see more Lao Americans coming out in droves to see more theater, to support spoken word, to lift our spirits in this country. We are no longer refugees! We are no longer silenced. Step up. Speak out. Recognize your worth and be proud of who you are...kon LAO. Make people KNOW who you are. Our stories and experiences are so rich and amazing. Let's share that with others. Let's share that with each other. Let's celebrate together as a community.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Finding our peeps in Boston!

We have been leading workshops in Boston this week sharing our process of working with community to tell the stories of immigration, escape, transition, struggle and triumph! We spent a day at Harbor Middle School in Dorchester, MA working with 80 7th graders. Lord - every time we work in schools we got to give it up for teachers. One day and four classes, and we were beat for the next 24 hours. Teachers do it everyday! Unbelievable! Yesterday we did a 3 hour workshop with UMASS Boston students and then they took us to this really GREAT Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown! It was a great workshop working with these undergrads who were getting their first exposure to theater and we feel blessed to be a part of hearing their stories. These diverse students were really courageous and had really incredible stories to tell, especially about their moms! And did we say we had a really great meal at this restaurant! Can't wait to see you all at our show at CMAC this Friday and Saturday!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

morning stretch in Boston

Today we tackle the script! We've been in Boston since last week. The grand opening of the Legacies of War (legaciesofwar.org) exhibit was last Thursday (friends please post your pictures here - we were so busy we didn't take any - no, don't post the "inappropriate" stuff!). Then we had all day meetings with the legacies peeps. It was so great to see everyone! Now we get to work on our show, or maybe. There's so much work to do, outreach, workshops in schools, finding our way around on the "T." Phitsamay has been helping set up outreach opportunities. Tomorrow we teach 7th graders in Dorchester. Today we find Trader Joe's and get some re-writes done. Not to mention rehearsing our fight sequence. Argh, touring and art making, our work is never done. Tell everyone you know New England about our upcoming show on October 12 (cmacusa.org). This photo is taken at the Ashmont station in Dorchester - um where's the station?