Independent Shakespeare Company (ISC) is presenting Kalean Ung’s multimedia solo show LETTERS FROM HOME at its Studio in Atwater Village. Directed by Marina McClure, the show performs Thursday to Sunday through Nov. 18, 2018.
LETTERS FROM HOME weaves together Ung’s Cambodian family’s refugee story, her own experience as a bi-racial, first-generation American; and some Shakespeare’s iconic female characters that she has performed, such as Desdemona in Othello. Unaware, for most of her life, of her family’s history, in 2016 Ung learned of a drawer in her father’s study filled with letters from family and friends written as they were forced to survive in refugee camps during the genocide that resulted from the rise of the Khmer Rouge.
Ung speaks sometimes to her father, other times to the audience, and at times to herself, as she delivers the story of her dad, Chinary Ung, who arrived in New York in the mid-60s with a music scholarship that ultimately saved his and several other lives. Mr. Ung, who now lives in San Diego, wrote the music that is part of LETTERS FROM HOME.
If you are not versed in the history of the Cambodian genocide, this play can be quite educational and thought -provoking. It is, for example, impossible to listen to her tale about Cambodian families traveling for miles on foot, through jungles, to find safety in Thailand, without thinking about the thousands of people that are right now, today, caravanning towards the U.S.
LETTERS FROM HOME is attention-grabbing, told with words, music, singing, projections, old pictures, and artistic panels on the stage that at one point seem to find life of their own. It is a nicely told story, pretty easy to follow and straightforward, up to the last 10 minutes, which become more artsy as Ung delivers lines from various Shakespeare plays that she feels match the sentiment of her play.
LETTERS FROM HOME will move you to learn more about the Cambodian genocide. If you have a friend from Cambodia, please take him or her along.
Tickets for LETTERS FROM HOME are $25, available at iscla.org or by calling (818) 710-6306. The ISC Studio is located inside the Atwater Crossing Arts + Innovation Complex, at 3191 Casitas Ave., #130 (between Fletcher Drive and Glendale Blvd.) in Los Angeles CA 90039.