Letters from Home

Letters from Home

Letters From Home is a multimedia solo performance that is a collaboration between Cambodian-American actress Kalean Ung, her father, celebrated Cambodian composer Chinary Ung, and director Marina McClure. The piece blends Kalean's research on the Cambodian genocide with Chinary's original music and Marina’s visionary direction to explore themes of family, sacrifice, and the hope inherent in immigration and the American dream.

Inspired by the moment Kalean’s father shared with her a trove of letters from family members in Cambodia suffering through the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, this compelling story pays tribute to refugees, immigrants, and the traumas passed down within families. Supporting this central storyline is an exploration of female Shakespearean characters, as Kalean analyzes how the letters express universal archetypes of mother, wife, and daughter. This special production blurs the lines of performance and incantation with Kalean stepping in and out of classic roles to grapple with the women she encounters in her father's letters.

Letters From Home integrates music and striking visual design, using projection and costume to create a scenic installation. It tells an emotional and compelling story about a Cambodian-American woman and her exploration of her connection to her family, her legacy, and the country of her father.

"Letters from Home" is accompanied by an exhibition, "Music, Letters, Home," which features the letters collected by composer Chinary Ung that inspired this original multimedia performance. The exhibition is on view at the Orange County and Southeast Asian Archive Center on the lower floor of UCI's  Gateway Study Center, across from the Langson Library. The exhibit is open Monday-Friday, 1-5 pm, until April 1. The exhibit will be open until 7pm the night of the performance. Please contact Thuy Duong for information, thuy.vodang@uci.edu.

Co-sponsored by Asian American Studies, Drama, the UCI Libraries, the Humanities Center, and the UCI Shakespeare Center

Event Details

  • When: Thursday, February 13, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Claire Trevor Theatre, Claire Trevor School of the Arts
  • Organizer: Judy Wu (email)
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