Milpitas actors, young and old, star in a play about the Vietnamese who fled their homeland to come to the U.S.—only to find new challenges.
For the younger generation of Vietnamese actors born in the U.S., it's a way to learn about the history of their elders and work on their Vietnamese language skills.
The play is bilingual, bridging the two groups, and able to cater to a broader audience, said Maria Nguyen, a volunteer and parent of actor, Denise Pham.
Waves of Life was written with stories of personal experiences of Vietnamese through Milpitas' local theater group, Sân Khấu Việt Cali.
"It's hard to have a new life in America," said Artistic Director Van Pham Mai, a Milpitas resident who has 25 years of theater experience, starting as a college student in Vietnam.
The title, Waves of Life, refers to the ups and downs. There's a Vietnamese saying, Ba chìm bẩy nổi—that for every three downs, there are seven ups.
"Your life isn't going to be smooth, just like the waves in the ocean," said Nguyen.
Because the group, Sân Khấu Việt Cali, got together and wrote the play, most of the stories are true, said Mai and Nguyen.
They touch upon themes that resonate in the community. For example, a woman becomes a single mom after her husband's gambling addiction leads to a divorce.
Each thread of a story begins with four characters in 1985, 10 years after the Vietnam War, at a refugee camp on Galang Island in Indonesia.
Dennis Hoang plays John Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American who goes to the island as a refugee worker, hoping to discover the whereabouts of his parents with whom he separated during the war.
Denise Pham, Kristina Lam and Valerie Vo, although born in the U.S., play the characters of boat children who make it to the refugee camp after losing one or both parents.
They later resettle in Milpitas and work in a nail salon, where they work through the trials and tribulations of their new lives with their husbands and children.
Waves of Life has , at 6 and 8:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at for $15 per person.
Contact Milpitas Patch for a free pair of tickets.
Sân Khấu Việt Cali received an in-kind grant from the city of Milpitas for the use of the Milpitas Community Center. Other grants were received from a variety of organizations to help cover lighting and sound technicians and a built-out stage design.