VANG, a Drama about Recent Immigrant Farmers
DeWitt Opera House Theatre, 712 6th Ave, DeWitt, Iowa
Free and open to public. Free will offering accepted.
“Vang” (meaning “garden” or “farm” in Hmong) is a two-person play about recent immigrant farmers. A Hmong family fleeing to Thailand. A Sudanese man thrown into prison. 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 this drama. The two actors, male and female, take on the parts of all eight immigrants. Photos of the actual immigrants are projected on the walls of the theatre and bring both artistic grace and reality to the performance.
Playwright Mary Swander is a fourth generation Iowan, Poet Laureate of Iowa and a distinguished professor of English at Iowa State. She worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Dennis Chamberlin, and Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival award-winner Matt Foss to create this drama called “Vang”. Swander and Chamberlin interviewed and photographed recent Iowa immigrant farmers from many countries. Then Swander wound their words together to form a verbatim play that captures the farmers’ journeys to the U.S., and their challenges and successes as new farmers.
The public often thinks of farmers as white males of European ancestry living in isolated rural areas. And the public often thinks of immigrants as those who have slipped into the United States to take advantage of assistance programs. “Vang” blows both of those stereotypes out of the water and opens discussion about how farming is done in the United States and how immigrants have become part of the larger agricultural picture.
At a time of turmoil over federal immigration and refugee travel orders, "
“It isn’t possible to witness this play and not be changed by the gut-wrenching experiences of these recent refugees and immigrants, by their ability to survive in the face of the horrific.” –Dr. Judith A. Conlin, Executive Director, Iowa International Center.
Brought to you by Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat
Co - Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa