Glencoe, IL– Writers Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Halberstam and Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma, opens its 2018/19 season with Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, directed by Lavina Jadhwani, featuring original music and music direction by Gabriel Ruiz and choreography by Tommy Rapley. Vietgone runs August 15 – September 23, 2018 in the Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe.
It’s 1975 and two young survivors (who may or may not be the playwright’s parents) meet in a Vietnamese refugee camp in mid-America shortly after the fall of Saigon. Will this strange new land of cowboys, hippies and bikers allow them to fall in love? Playwright Qui Nguyen’s wildly creative, irreverent style flips stereotypes on their head, remixing history and culture into a sexy, funny and energetic fantasia as he imagines how two soul mates might have found each other in a turbulent time.
Equal parts road-trip adventure, buddy film, romantic comedy and Hamilton-esque rap musical, this epic new play repurposes pop culture from the last forty years to tell its “probably-mostly-true” story. Directed by Lavina Jadhwani, Vietgone takes a no-holds-barred approach, transporting you through time and across the globe to put an innovative spin on a critical moment in our history.
Warning, contains strong language and adult themes.
“Vietgone is one of the most creative, vibrant and entertaining plays to emerge on the American stage in the past few years,” said Artistic Director Michael Halberstam.” Qui Nguyen handles his subject matter with great originality and a generous eye towards keeping the audience engaged, while not shying away from a very sophisticated narrative. Furthermore, thanks in no small part to pioneers like Lin Manuel Miranda and The Q Brothers, hip-hop culture and rap music have become an organic part of the current theatrical conversation and Mr. Nguyen uses the vernacular to great effect. In fact, Vietgone feels somewhat like producing a musical. The piece fills the epic canvas of the Nichols stage with its integral musical score and choreographic sequences, while adhering to the intimacy that is a hallmark of the Writers Theatre experience.
“Director Lavina Jadhwani has been collaborating with Writers Theatre in various capacities for more than a decade now, and her directorial debut is an organic extension of our ongoing relationship. Her national career has been well and truly launched with projects in development at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (where she first encountered this play), the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Florida and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. She’s assembled an ideal cast and a bravura design team, and we all feel very lucky to be working together to tell such a dynamic and important story.”
The cast of Vietgone includes: Aurora Adachi-Winter (Tong), Rammel Chan (Asian Guy/American Guy/Nhan/Khue), Emjoy Gavino (Asian Girl/American Girl/Thu/Huong/Translator/Flower Girl), Ian Michael Minh (Playwright/Giai/Bobby/Captain Chambers/Redneck Biker/Hippie Dude) and Matthew C. Yee (Quang).
The creative team includes: Yu Shibagaki (scenic), Melissa Ng (costumes), Sarah Hughey (lighting), Kevin O’Donnell (sound), Rasean Davonte Johnson (projections), Dwight Sora (assistant director) and Carol Ann Tan (production dramaturg). The production stage manager is David Castellanos.
Tickets are priced $35 – $80. Subscriptions and individual tickets may be purchased online at www.writerstheatre.org, by phone at 847-242-6000 or in person at the box office at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Qui Nguyen (Playwright) is a playwright, screenwriter, and co-founder of the OBIE Award-winning Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company of NYC. His plays include Vietgone (2016 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, 2016 LADCC Tim Schmitt Award, 2016 Edward M. Kennedy Prize finalist), War is F**king Awesome (Frederick Loewe Award), She Kills Monsters (2014 AATE Distinguished Play Award, 2012 GLAAD Media Award nom), Soul Samurai (2009 GLAAD Media Award nom) and the critically acclaimed Vampire Cowboys shows: The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G, Alice in Slasherland, Fight Girl Battle World, Men of Steel, Six Rounds of Vengeance and Living Dead in Denmark. Recent awards include a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program (Peg+Cat) and a 2015 New York Community Trust Helen Merrill Playwriting Award. He is proud member of the WGA, The Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre and The Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He’s an alumni of New Dramatists and Youngblood. For television, he’s written for PBS’s Peg+Cat and SYFY’s Incorporated. Currently, he’s a screenwriter for Marvel Studios.
Lavinia Jadhwani (Director) Lavina Jadhwani is a Chicago-based director, adaptor, and advocate. Favorite directing credits include Roe (Asolo Repertory Theatre), Human Rites (world premiere at the Phoenix Theatre, Indianapolis), Great Expectations (Silk Road Rising/Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), Gruesome Playground Injuries, Much Ado About Nothing, Yoni Ki Baat (Rasaka Theatre Company), Cherry Smoke (the side project), Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista—BroadwayWorld nomination, Best Production for Young Audiences), Hamlet and Twelfth Night (Oak Park Festival Theatre). Her adaptations include The Sitayana (a solo performance piece based on the Hindu epic, The Ramayana), Vanya (adapted from Chekhov) and Shakuntala: An East-Meets-West Love Story (an a cappella musical, adapted from Kalidasa). Lavina maintains relationships with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Phil Killian Directing Fellow), the National New Play Network (Affiliated Artists Council), Silk Road Rising (Artistic Associate) and Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Artistic Engagement Associate). She was named Time Out Chicago’s “Best Next Generation Stage Director” in 2013. Lavina is a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University (M.F.A., Directing), Carnegie Mellon University (B.F.A., Scenic Design; Masters, Arts Management) and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
Gabriel Ruiz (Original Music/Music Director) Gabriel is a proud ensemble member of Teatro Vista. Chicago credits include: Agamemnon (Court Theatre), City of Angels (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire), The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman Theatre), White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista), Creditors (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company), How Long Will I Cry?, The Motherfucker with the Hat (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Sita Ram (Chicago Children’s Choir), After (Profiles Theatre), Working: The Musical (Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place), Richard III, Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Regional credits include: Native Gardens (Cincinnati Playhouse), Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Forward Theater Company) and Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts). He can also be seen as Dilip Singh in both seasons of Boss (Starz).
Tommy Rapley (Choreographer) Tommy Rapley is a proud Company Member with The House Theatre of Chicago where he has choreographed over 25 world-premiere productions including The Sparrow (Jeff Award), Cave With Man (Jeff Award), The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan, The Valentine Trilogy and Death and Harry Houdini. Directing credits for The House include: The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz, All the Fame of Lofty Deeds, Hope Springs Infernal, DORIAN and their critically acclaimed productions of The Nutcracker. Other notable Chicago credits include: AIDA (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Detroit (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), One Hundred Dresses, A Year with Frog and Toad (Chicago Children’s Theatre), Yeast Nation (American Theatre Company), Man in the Ring (Court Theatre), The King and I, City of Angels (Marriott Theatre) and A Christmas Carol (The Goodman Theatre). Tommy has worked regionally with Hartford Stage Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Kansas City Rep., Olney Theatre Center, St. Louis Rep., The Adrienne Arsht Center and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Aurora Adachi-Winter (Tong) A Chicago native, Aurora grew up on the south side of the city, attended Walter Payton College Prep and graduated with her BFA in theatre from The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is a company member with First Floor Theater, where she appeared in their productions of Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, peerless and Two Mile Hollow. Other past credits include: Bull In A China Shop (About Face Theatre), Put Your House In Order (The Roustabouts), The Burials (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), good friday (Oracle Productions, Jeff Nomination for Best Ensemble), Hinter (Steep Theatre Company), M. Butterfly (Court Theatre) and Miss Saigon (The Paramount). Upcoming productions include Red Rex (Steep Theatre) and Lottery Day (Goodman Theatre) both by Chicago playwright Ike Holter. Aurora has performed three consecutive years in The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience), including with her mother, aunt and cousin in their drum group Adachi Taiko.
Rammel Chan (Asian Guy/American Guy/Nhan Khue) Theatre credits include King of the Yees (Goodman Theatre, Kirk Douglas Theatre), Oblivion (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), A Red Line Runs Through It (u/s Second City), Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Next Act Theatre) and staged readings of Vietgone (Writers Theatre), The Supreme Leader (Roundabout Theatre Company), The Not-So-Accidental Conviction of Eleven Milwaukee Anarchists (Milwaukee Repertory) and The Oldest Boy (Goodman Theatre). He is an ensemble member of Stir Friday Night, a recipient of the 2015 Bob Curry Fellowship from the Second City and the 2018 Kundiman Fiction Fellowship. As a writer, his play Northern Michigan Trust premiered as part of TEN at The Gift Theatre and his short fiction has appeared in Riksha or is forthcoming in Asimov’s Science Fiction. His film and television credits include Cold War, End of the Tour, Red Line (CBS), Crisis, Chicago Justice (NBC), Patriot (Amazon) and The Jamz (Netflix).
Emjoy Gavino (Asian Girl/American Girl/Thu/Huong/Translator/Flower Girl) Representative Chicago credits include Steppenwolf Theatre (The Drunken City, You Got Older), Court Theater (Wait Until Dark, Electra, The Good Book, Iphigenia in Aulis, M Butterfly, The Hard Problem), About Face Theatre (Bull in a China Shop), The Hypocrites (You on the Moors Now), The Second City (The Realish Housewives—National tour), The House Theater of Chicago (Death and Harry Houdini, Wilson Wants it All), Northlight (4000 Miles), Victory Gardens (Failure: A Love Story), Remy Bumppo (Seascape, Fallen Angels, Love and Information), Paramount (Hair), Broadway Playhouse (Working), Lookingglass Theatre (Arabian Nights), The Neo-Futurists (Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol) and Goodman Theater (A Christmas Carol). Regional credits include Repertory Actors Theatre, Book-It Repertory, ACT, 5th Avenue Theatre and Village Theatre. Film/TV: The Exorcist, Mob Doctor, Empire (Fox), Chicago Fire and Chicago Med (NBC). Emjoy graduated from The School at Steppenwolf. She is the casting director of Gift Theatre, a teaching artist with Barrel of Monkeys, a 3Arts Make a Wave grantee and is the founder and producer of The Chicago Inclusion Project. She is represented by Stewart Talent.
Ian Michael Minh (Playwright/Giai/Bobby/Captain Chamber/Redneck Biker/Hippie Dude) is an artistic ensemble member of Midsommer Flight and has appeared in the company’s productions of Twelfth Night, Hamlet and As You Like It. Other Chicago productions include Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista), The Last Dance, Shadow Boy (Commedia Beauregard), Art (Parlor Room Players) and Coriolanus (Commission Theatre).
Matthew C. Yee (Quang) Theatre credits include Once (Paramount Theatre), Treasure Island (Lookingglass Theatre Company), Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure, The Year I Didn’t Go to School, A Year With Frog And Toad (Chicago Children’s Theatre) and The Wheel (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). Television credits include Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice (NBC) and Empire (Fox).
Sunday, September 16, 2018 at 11:30am
In Vietgone, playwright Qui Nguyen gives us a dynamic look at the Vietnam War and its aftermath from a rarely observed point of view. At this Sunday Spotlight event, we will be joined by a diverse panel of historians, activists and artists to discuss varying perspectives on this contentious time in history when the country—and the world—was undergoing great change. Seating is limited, RSVP is required.
The Making of… Vietgone
Monday, September 10, 2018 at 6:30pm
Music plays a huge role in Vietgone, and the styles are specific and intentional for each musical moment. At this Q&A, WT Associate Artistic Director Geoff Button moderates a discussion to break down the music in Vietgone, looking at the rich storytelling in rap and how popular music makes its way from radio waves to the stage. Seating is limited, RSVP is required.
Post-Show Conversation: The Word
Join us after every Tuesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute discussion of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
Post-Show Conversation: The Artist
Join us after every Wednesday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute talk-back featuring actors from the production, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
Pre-Show Conversation: Up Close
Join us at 6:45pm before every Thursday evening performance (excluding First Week and any extension weeks) for a 15-minute primer on the context and content of the play, facilitated by a member of the WT Artistic Team.
RIDE METRA TO WRITERS THEATRE
In an effort to promote taking public transit to the Theatre, Writers Theatre launched a new promotion in 2013. Any audience member who purchases a ticket to a Writers Theatre production and rides Metra’s Union Pacific North Line to the Theatre may snap a photo of themselves on the train and post it to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account with a tag of @WritersTheatre (@Writers_Theatre on Instagram) and #VietgoneWT, and upon showing the post at the Writers Theatre Box Office, receive $5 in cash to put toward the cost of your fare as a thank you for going green.
This promotion is available for a limited time only and may end without warning. Ticket must have been paid for in advance. Not valid on comp tickets. More information available at writerstheatre.org/metra
WRITERS THEATRE PARTNERS
Writers Theatre is pleased to recognize BMO Harris Bank as the 2018/19 Season Sponsor and ComEd as the Official Lighting Sponsor of the 2018/19 Season. The Major Corporate Sponsor for Vietgone is Northern Trust. The Major Production Sponsors are Maryellen and Richard Keyser, and the Artists Council Sponsors are Laurie and Michael Petersen. Additional support for Vietgone is provided by the Director’s Society Sponsors.
For more information about Writers Theatre’s 2018/19 partners, visit writerstheatre.org/our-supporters.
ABOUT WRITERS THEATRE
For more than 25 years, Writers Theatre has captivated Chicagoland audiences with inventive interpretations of classic work, a bold approach to contemporary theatre and a dedication to creating the most intimate theatrical experience possible.
Under the artistic leadership of Michael Halberstam and the executive leadership of Kathryn M. Lipuma, Writers Theatre has grown to become a major Chicagoland cultural destination with a national reputation for excellence, being called the top regional theatre in the nation by The Wall Street Journal. The company, which plays to a sold-out and discerning audience of more than 60,000 patrons each season, has garnered critical praise for the consistent high quality and intimacy of its artistry—providing the finest interpretations of both classic and contemporary theatre in its two intensely intimate venues.
In February 2016, Writers Theatre opened a new, state-of-the-art facility. This established the company’s first permanent home—a new theatre center in downtown Glencoe, designed by the award-winning, internationally renowned Studio Gang Architects, led by Founder and Design Principal Jeanne Gang, FAIA, in collaboration with Theatre Consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander. The new facility has allowed the Theatre to continue to grow to accommodate its audience, while maintaining its trademark intimacy. The new facility resonates with and complements the Theatre’s neighboring Glencoe community, adding tremendous value to Chicagoland and helping to establish the North Shore as a premier cultural destination.
Find Writers Theatre on Facebook at Facebook.com/WritersTheatre, follow @WritersTheatre on Twitter or @Writers_Theatre on Instagram. For more information, visit www.writerstheatre.org.
Written by: Qui Nguyen
Original Music & Music Direction: Gabriel Ruiz
Choreographed by: Tommy Rapley
Directed by: Lavina Jhadwani
Featuring: Aurora Adachi-Winter (Tong), Rammel Chan (Asian Guy/American Guy/Nhan/Khue), Emjoy Gavino (Asian Girl/American Girl/Thu/Huong/ Translator/Flower Girl), Ian Michael Minh (Playwright/Giai/Bobby/Captain Chambers/Redneck Biker/Hippie Dude) and Matthew C. Yee (Quang)
Creative Team: Yu Shibagaki (scenic), Melissa Ng (costumes), Sarah Hughey (lighting), Kevin O’Donnell (sound), Rasean Davonte Johnson (projections), Dwight Sora (assistant director) and Carol Ann Tan (production dramaturg). The production stage manager is David Castellanos.
Dates: First performance: Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Press opening: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 7:30pm
Closing performance: September 23, 2018
Open Captioning performance: Thursday, September 6 at 7:30pm
ASL-Interpreted performance: Saturday, September 22 at 7:30pm
Schedule: Tuesdays – Fridays: 7:30pm
(with select 3:00pm Wednesday matinees)
Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm
Location: The Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre
325 Tudor Court, Glencoe
Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 – $80
Purchase early for best prices
Box Office: The Box Office is located at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe;
Notes of Interest
- Vietgone features an Asian American playwright, director and cast, and a significant portion of the creative team.
- The play explores the time during and immediately following the Vietnam War, told through the eyes of Vietnamese refugees, revealing a different perspective on a well-known piece of American history.
- Vietgone is a first-generation immigrant story told through a second-generation lens. As a result, this period piece about the 70s is infused with elements of modern American pop culture—rap music, ninja fights, movie montages, motorcycle chases—that playwright Qui Nguyen grew up loving.
- Director Lavina Jadhwani has a long-standing relationship with Writers Theatre starting as a script reader and progressing to serve as Dramaturg of Travels with My Aunt and the Director of the staged reading of Our Few and Evil Days.
- Gabriel Ruiz has composed original music for the production. Like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, Vietgone uses contemporary music, including rap, to tell an historic story in an anachronistic way.