Vietgone – An Arkansas love story. With ninjas.
Acclaimed play takes the stage 03.14–04.08
Written by Arkansas native Qui Nguyen. Directed by Kholoud Sawaf.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS—The irreverent new comedy and recent off-Broadway hit Vietgone will begin performances at TheatreSquared on March 14. Set in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon, this New York Times Critics’ Pick is a stranger-than-fiction true love story between two refugees: he’s lost his wife; she’s lost her fiancé—and now, they just might find each other on the other side of the world. Qui Nguyen, now a playwright and screenwriter for Marvel, deploys hip-hop, fight sequences, and up-to-the-minute pop culture references to tell his own origin story as his parents “meet cute” in the repurposed barracks of a relocation camp in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. The production will be directed by T2 artist-in-residence Kholoud Sawaf. Performances are scheduled Wednesdays through Sundays, March 14-April 8, at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville. Tickets are on sale now from $17-$48 at (479) 443-5600 or theatre2.org.
“With echoes of Hamilton, ‘70s biker road flicks, ’80s rom-coms—and a few ninjas thrown in—Vietgone is a joyous, impetuous mash-up that simply can’t be missed,” said Ford. “It’s rendered with a gorgeous, ripped-from-the-comic books production design. And how thrilling is it, after acclaimed debuts on both coasts, to bring it back home to Arkansas, just miles from where it actually happened?”
Qui Nguyen—an Arkansas native from El Dorado, whose writing has garnered him an Obie Award, and Emmy Award, and a job writing for the super heroes at Marvel Studios—gleefully hijacks and subverts cultural stereotypes while blending genres in his work. Vietgone tells a story that its playwright never witnessed growing up, in which his parents are cool, strong, sexy—and are also displaced immigrants. Unafraid of anachronisms, Nguyen’s characters rap and banter more like modern American teenagers than refugees from another era, showcasing the strength of the characters’ journeys as they veer from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. The play is at once an irreverent romantic comedy and a moving account of one family's unlikely, inspiring origin story in the Natural State.
Vietgone plays March 14-April 8 at TheatreSquared, in residence at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios at 505 West Spring Street in Fayetteville. The play contains mature language and content and is recommended for ages 14 and older, with parental guidance. The production has been met with acclaim on both coasts:
“ A riotous theatrical cartoon that won me over with its simple honesty.”
– The Los Angeles Times
“A raucous, immensely moving comedy with a fresh, impish voice.”
– The New York Times
“Four stars! A high-energy triumph.” – The Guardian
T2 artist-in-residence Kholoud Sawaf will direct. Most recently, she assistant directed Vietgone at the Manhattan Theatre Club and at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, both under the direction of May Adrales. She is a recipient of the 2017 Classical Directing Fellowship from the Drama League in New York. She was also a Lab Company Fellow at Hangar Theatre and collaborated on four productions with Shakespeare & Co. in Massachusetts and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in New York. She was instrumental in TheatreSquared’s three-year $250,000 grant award from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, and is developing an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in contemporary Syria. Born and raised in Damascus, she worked with the Al Qabbani and Al-Hamra theatres at an early age and attended the Performing Arts Program at American University in Sharjah, where she also collaborated with Skyline Theatre. She is a member of the Nihna Cultural Group in Damascus and holds an MFA in Directing from University of Arkansas.
The cast of Vietgone includes Cory Censoprano, Rebecca Hirota, Edward Hong, David Huynh, and Jolene Kim. The creative team includes scenic designer Chika Shimizu, lighting designer Emily Clarkson, projection designer Joey Moro, costume designer Ruby Kemph, sound designer Michael Prieto, choreographer Casey Robinson, fight choreographer Scott Russell, properties master Brodie Jasch, and production stage manager Shannon Jones.
TheatreSquared’s production is made possible in part with support from show sponsors Denise & Hershey Garner and Susan & Orville Hall.
Performances are scheduled March 14 to April 8, Wednesdays through Sundays, at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios.
Wednesday–Friday: 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 2:00 p.m.; 7:30 p.m.
Sunday: 2:00 p.m.
Ticket & Subscription Info
Tickets range from $17-$48 and are available at (479) 443-5600 or online at theatre2.org.
Through T2’s Lights Up! For Access program, supported by the Walmart Foundation, SNAP benefit recipients can purchase $5 tickets and patrons under the age of 30 can purchase $10 tickets. For more information, visit theatre2.org/lights-up.
TheatreSquared is Northwest Arkansas’ professional regional theatre, offering an intimate live theatre experience for more than 40,000 patrons each year in its 175-seat space and in schools throughout the state. TheatreSquared was recognized by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, as one of the nation’s 10 most promising emerging theatres. TheatreSquared has experienced remarkable growth in recent seasons, expanding its audience tenfold during the past five years. The theatre recently broke ground on a new 50,000-square-foot facility to be completed in mid-2019, and launched the $34 million Our Next Stage Campaign to support construction and a sustainable transition. Designs and campaign information are online at ournextstage.org.
Major funding for the TheatreSquared Season 12 is provided by The Walton Family Foundation, Inc.; the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts; the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation; the Walmart Foundation; the Windgate Charitable Foundation; and by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Major marketing support for TheatreSquared Season 12 is provided by Experience Fayetteville, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Fayetteville Flyer, Cox Communications, KNWA, CitiScapes, KUAF, and MailCo USA.