A Hmong family who fled Communist bullets and wild tigers through the jungle of Laos and across the Mekong River to the refugee camp in Thailand. A Sudanese man who was thrown into prison in Ethiopia for helping the Lost Boys and was left gasping for air through a crack under the door. A Mexican woman who taught herself English by looking up the meaning of the profane words that were hurled at her at her first job in a meat packing plant. A Dutch boy, dressed as a cowboy, who put the flag of the Netherlands through the paper shredder and declared, “I am an American.”
These are some of the characters brought to life in Vang: A Drama about Recent Immigrant Farmers. Poet Laureate of Iowa Mary Swander, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Dennis Chamberlin, and Kennedy Center award-winner Matt Foss collaborated to create a drama called Vang (meaning “garden” or “farm” in Hmong). Swander and Chamberlin documented recent Iowa immigrant farmers. Swander wound their words together to form a verbatim play that captures the immigrants’ journeys to the U.S. Hmong, Mexican, Sudanese, and Dutch immigrants all speak of their struggles, survival skills, and their intense desire to return to the land. Chamberlin took stunning photos of the immigrants in their greenhouses, farms, and dairy barns. Foss added his theatrical brilliance to the production, bringing Vang to life on the stage. And Michael Ching, past executive director of the Memphis opera, composed music to underscore the play’s message.
Sponsored by the CBU Department of Religion and Philosophy and the Memphis Center for Food and Faith
Free and open to the public.