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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Panel at National Asian American Theater Festival

Join us at the National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival as we share our work on a panel. In this case study session, panelist will share the local, national and international impact that Refugee Nation, an interdisciplinary theater project based on stories collected from Laotian refugees, has had in their community. Through theater and organizational partnerships, this project reaches across oceans, from Los Angeles to Laos, to explore war, global politics and U.S. citizenship. We will be joined by long time colleagues: Channapha Khamvongsa, Legacies of War, and Bryan Thao Worra of the Lao Assistance Center.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Progress in Portland

Why no posts lately? It's been busy. We closed our shows in Seattle, had one day to re-coup (but didn't cause we wanted to see our friends before we left town) and did a final evening workshop for Highline Community College. Early the next morning we headed to the train station with our dear hosts Pom, Phon & Ravi. Bidding them a very fond farewell, wishing we could pack them in our bags, we then took off on the train to Portland. First day here we interviewed Mr. Hongsa a leader in the Lao community. Thursday and Friday more workshops and school presentations. Memorial Day was no Holiday for us. We loaded into the Interstate Firehouse Theater and started setting up lights and costumes. Tuesday was a long day for the guys. A workshop with youth and another 10 hour day in the theater setting lights. Tomorrow is an ambitious day set for two run-thrus. Let me tell a bit about the cast of characters here in Portland! Toc, remember Toc from Alaska? Now a mother of two, Toc is the major force behind introducing Refugee Nation to Portland. She's gathered her like minded, fierce force of South East Asian women to make the show happen. Jen (also the mother of two) is the calm centered one of the bunch, Pone is a go getting lawyer/mom, and Coi is ever helpful and supportive (even if it requires being a drinking buddy/nightlife tour guide). In addition there is Sathy, Bopha, Alma, Souk and a whirling array of excited, generous, helpful, energetic folks making the rainy days of Portland seem full of light!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sleepless in Seattle

When you tour with a 5 month old...sleep deprivation is eminent. Say, you have a performance at 7:30pm and end at 9:30pm...you got out with fans and colleagues aftewards and soon realize time has passed. Next thing you know...you'll be up at 2AM or 4AM for the feeding, cleaning and changing of your 5 month old. We are lucky that our boy is one of the most social, calm and very friendly baby.

Seattle is done. We leave Sea-town with a warm send off. Our three performances at the Ethnic Cultural Theater brought in approximately 250 new audience members who had a chance to experience Refugee Nation. The demographics of various ages and ethnicities is the most impressive. Our Saturday matinee surprisingly brought Laotian families from elementary school children to grandparents. We had a very successful outcome that I feel made quite an impression and impact on the community in Seattle. We heard wonderful responses to the play like "I wish more people could see this...I wish I had told my friend or family about this...they should come." All these responses make me realize the great work that we do, the high quality of acting and presentation and the commitment we have to our theater art.

Thank you Seattle for a wonderful time. Lao Heritage Foundation: Major round of applause for master host Pom, Phon & Ravi Khampradith. They are such a busy family and with the heart of giving. There home is a cultural center for the Lao, especially for Kinnaly Dance Troupers. Big sisters Olivia, Jennifer and Phonetip are emerging leaders. Thanks for the fun times, laughter and taking our "boys" Litdet and Kedar out for a Seattle night to remember. Joseph Mills and Franklin High School Southeast Asian youth who had the joy of experiencing a Refugee Nation theater workshop as well as seeing a phenomenal life changing play. I hope we inspired you to seek your desires to serve not just your own personal dreams but your communities. Joseph came twice to see with many of the boys in tow. Ekkarath Sisavathdy and Lina Older of Highline Community College are the most warm and supportive new friends we have made. Aside from squeezing us in to the API event early on our arrival to Seattle...we ended our last presentation and workshop at Highline with over 60 adult ESL students represented globally from every continent some countries even new to our vocabulary. We had an amazing workshop and presentation and afterwards were treated to fine dining at a restaurant by the waters of Puget Sound. Blessings to Sakuna Thongchanh and her family for being such great supporters.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kinnaly Musicians & Dancers ACT!

Our tech maestro, Kedar Lawrence, arrived today and is put to work documenting our visit to Kinnaly Dance Troupe's weekly Sunday practices. Rainy Seattle welcomes Kedar with cold and dreary atmosphere on his first trip to the Pacific Northwest. He is excited to be joining the Refugee Nation team on tour. In lieu of regular class the students of Kinnaly were treated to a workshop lead by Leilani and your's truly. They were challenged to express themselves in ways that brought giggles, laughter and moments of pause. All had a great time and the 3 hour session ended with a workshop performance in front of the many parents that were there. The middle and high school participants got to share some of there stories in a group effort "flocking" around the studio, while the elementary school participants found self expression without inhibition. A great day for learning, loving and family.
Leading the workshop
The expressive line-up

Faces of the youngest actors in class

Learning how to flock while storytelling

Getting down into the story

Parents sit in the studio to enjoy the work and progress
Group cheer "IMUA" embedded to me from my days at T-shirt Theater

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Highline Community College & Meeker Middle School

On our first day arriving in Seattle we were greeted by co-presenter and host Pom Khampradith of Lao Heritage Foundation. The weather...bleak...usual in Seattle but we came with warmth and smiles after an early morning airplane ride on Alaska Airlines. This was our first adventure with Nouthak our touring baby on board. He did well on the plane ride from LA to Seattle...YES for free lap child policy. Kinnaly Dance Troupe had a performance at the Asian Cultural Heritage Celebration at Highline Community College and we are asked to share an excerpt to a crowd of 300 or more. HCC has a large population of international students and you could see it in the crowd. Many beautiful distinct faces and languages socializing. The next day we went to Meeker Middle School and worked with 6-8 graders who are looking ahead towards college and did a workshop. So far the residency activity for our stay here has been very diverse of demographics. Refugee Nation is truly reflected in the people we've met with so far. Kinnaly and Leilani in the rain at Highline Community College
Welcome to Highline Community College
Kinnaly preps before performance
Flags of countries highlighted for this years Asian Cultural Heritage celebration
International audience ready for some culture exchange
Acting outside with Meeker Middle School students
Expressing yourself

UCLA May 9:We came, we spoke and we conversed.

On May 9 at UCLA in a classroom of the Physics and Astronomy Building young minds gather and open up to hearing the tale of Refugee Nation. About 60 students attending an Asian American Theater class was filled with inquiring minds after we shared an excerpt on video. Both Leilani and I enjoyed for the first time the laughter and introspection that come from viewing the piece. We were in awe of our own performance alongside these new viewers. Afterwards, with so much content to discussed Leilani and I spoke with Nouthak strapped on about the important value of telling our own stories. Special thanks goes to the Professor Lucy Burns of Asian American Studies Department and Teresa Barnett of the Center for Oral History Research for making our visit to UCLA possible. I think we inspired and encouraged emerging voices to take the leap towards getting their community stories out!
Leilani lectures
Refugee Nation tag team lecture.
Father and son time.
Refugee Nation post lecture meal time.
Professor Lucy Burns observes with intent.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Full Circle of Inspiration

Our appearance at the UC Irvine Library's Southeast Asian Archive Open House brought us full circle. Several years ago while we were birthing Refugee Nation we went to visit the Southeast Asian Archives having met Anne Frank and Prany Sananikone for the first time. Through our visit we were inspired to collect and even learn various techniques of story collection. We also realized the importance of the voice for Southeast Asians and more specifically need to create and find Laotian material in the archive. Year later, Refugee Nation is a part of the collection at the UC Irvine Library. The event was like a family reunion of sorts with long time supporters and friends in attendance. Thank you for letting us share. The Southeast Asian Archive is a very important source for academics, scholars and anyone who is interested in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Christina J. Woo and Prum Ok
Southeast Asian Academic Power
Attendees and long time supporters: Bryan Thao Worra, Leslie Chanthaphasouk, Ketmani Kouanchao.
Pioneers of the Southeast Asian Archives: Prany Sananikone, Mr. Frank and Anne Frank with charming artistic couple and baby.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sacramento the Lao'd Nation!!!

Congratulations to LAAO for hosting a historical and amazing event Sabaidee Bpeemai Lao Celebration at Cal Expo in Sacramento. We were honored to be invited. Our participation in sharing an aspect of the Lao community through theater for a crowd of thousands has been a true highlight in the Refugee Nation journey. We had a wonderful time and send sincere congratulations to the team that made it happen: Lily, La, Jerry, Judy, Jenny, Khonnie, Vicki, Melinda, Katherine and everyone of the Sacramento LAAO team. All photos below courtesy of Issy Alex Virasayachack. LAAO leader Lily Liemthongsamout
Afternoon emcees Tim Tararug from San Jose and Judy Sithipone
The over-the-top Emmy Macadangdang and Manny Manuel Luis Sanchez III aka Bert
Mistaken Awards to Ova Saopeng
Over 5000 in attendance at the 1st Lao New Year in Sacramento
Fellow artists: Alex San Dinero, Jonny Olsen, Tommy Chanthasene, K-ONE

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

same but different

Rehearsals began this week in preparations for Lao New Year in Sacramento and for our Pacific Northwest Tour to Seattle and Portland. On the one hand, it hasn't been THAT long since our last show, feels familiar. But something is different. Oh yeah! We had a baby! Nouthak Hakumele Saopeng (4 months) is attending all rehearsals and will be joining us on tour. Wow, what a whole new adventure. Hope we get to see you all on the road.