Red Flamboyant reading at the Aurora Theatre

MRS HUE:
How will I know if I’ve found a weakness?

TRUNG NHI:
You’ll hear thunder.

A while back the Aurora Theatre announced this year’s GAP prize winners, and I was fortunate enough to be one of them.  The prize included flying me up to Berkeley, California to rehearse and attend a staged reading of RED FLAMBOYANT.  I fortunately made it out of NYC last Saturday before another snowstorm came rolling in.  Five and a half hours later, I was at SFO waiting for the BART to take me through San Francisco, across the bay, and into Berkeley.  Berkeley feels so different from other parts of SF.  Much more like Colorado.  The air is fresh and crisp and the area is rich with vibrant college students.  Getting a chance to work on this play again right before going into production in NYC was a godsend.

My cast (Mia Tagano, Fe Bongolan, Kat Evasco, Carina Salazar, and Jomar Tagatac) along with our intrepid director Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe dug in very quickly for eight hours of rehearsal where I got to see some of the scenes staged.  Also hat tip to the cast for learning Ba Rang Ba Ri, the song that women sing in the play at the Mid Autumn Festival.

The talkback is designed a little differently.  The theatre eschews the usual Q&A format with the audience.  Instead, they are asked one simple question:  What element or aspect of the play resonated with you on a personal level and how did it connect to a personal experience you’ve had in your life?  What I love about this question is that it asks the audience to share a similar sense of vulnerability that playwrights do when hearing their play in front of an audience.

And just like that, I was on a plane heading back to NYC.  Driving over the Bay Bridge on my way to the airport, I looked out at the bay, spotting the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz on my right, and to the left is an entire ocean, and just across the ocean is Vietnam, where Mrs Hue lives.  I thought to myself “NYC has its skyscrapers, but SF has its Bay.”  I’m comforted by the fact that as I make more friends and do more theatre in the Bay Area, surprisingly, San Francisco is becoming a second home for me.   The first time you find a place where you belong, you’ll hear the warm welcome of inevitability.  The second time you find a place where you belong, you’ll hear thunder.