Vietnamese Plays in Seattle and L.A.: Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam and Year of the Rabbit

If you’re in Seattle or Los Angeles, be sure to catch these plays dealing with Viet Nam or the Vietnamese.

In Seattle, the Allen Theatre premieres “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam” by Trieu Tran with Robert Egan. September 7 – October 7, 2012, 90 minutes, no intermission.

A beautiful and powerful story about becoming a man and becoming American.

A Vietnamese boy journeys with his mother from the fall of Saigon to a Viet Cong re-education camp in the jungle, then to a refugee camp in Thailand, and, finally, to America. But in the New World he faces a turbulent passage to manhood shaped by his estranged father and by his own estrangement in the land of snow, hip-hop, urban gangs, and clashing cultures. A riveting immigrant drama that vividly depicts what it’s like to become American while you’re haunted by the ghosts of Viet Nam.

From’s review:  “In popular American culture, the experience of the Vietnamese people during and after the Vietnam War is represented marginally at best, as actor Trieu Tran observes in his haunting and harrowing one-man play, Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam. In this taut 90-minute piece…Tran offers a raw look at his journey from Vietnam to America, both physically and culturally, and at his quest to find somewhere to belong…a powerful indictment of the promises that the United States failed to keep to those touched by the war, as well as a rare insight into how those broken promises are still impacting individuals like Tran today.”

From the Seattle Times’ review: “one of the most harrowing autobiographies this critic has ever heard in a theater…The traumatic cataclysms of Tran’s childhood are like land mines that detonate, one by one, with blistering force.”

*Show contains adult language and themes.

Trieu Tran in "Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam"

Trieu Tran is a remarkably talented actor with a fast-rising career.  Trieu earned his Bachelor in Performing Arts from The American University. He has appeared in numerous theatrical productions through the years.  Notably, the role of Alan Strang in Equus (LADCC Nomination), the title role in Oedipus The King, The Legacy Codes (Dean Goodman Award) with TheatreWorks. Other favorites include: Rashomon, As You Like It, Richard III.  He is also a frequent participant at the Ojai Playwrights Conference. Film: How High, Hancock, Tropic Thunder. The soon to be release drama Trade of Innocents alongside Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney. Trieu is recurring on the new Aaron Sorkin series The Newsroom for HBO.

Tickets here.

In Los Angeles, the Ensemble Studio Theater premieres Year of the Rabbit by Keliher Walsh.

Directed by James Eckhouse, features Ashanti Brown, Elyse Dinh, Peter Mackenzie (Hart of Dixie, The B* in Apt 23), Will McFadden, Meshach Taylor (Designing Woman, Mannequin) and Keliher Walsh

The winner of Kentucky Women Writers Conference Prize for Women Playwrights Competition, The Year of the Rabbit by Los Angeles based actress and playwright Keliher Walsh is a complex snapshot of two American families spanning two generations and two wars – the Vietnam War and the Afghan War.

Playwright Keliher Walsh

James Eckhouse directs the world premiere of Walsh’s haunting and deeply moving drama that intertwines the war in Vietnam and the present day conflict in Afghanistan to illuminate the devastating consequences of war across generations and ethnicities. The play’s narrative is set in motion by an FA-18 Marine Fighter jet’s questionable actions and result in grave consequences for them, as well as their families.

from The Examiner: “The acting was absolutely superb. Elyse Dihn was beyond magnificent and made every phase of her main character rich and clear. Ashanti Brown projected an utterly real Kara and darn near convinced me that she was indeed half Asian solely through great acting. Peter Mackenzie and Keliher Walsh who in fact wrote the play were perfect as upper middle class parents of their Naval Aviator son. Meshach Taylor was completely believable as a Vietnam Veteran who had enjoyed the love of a young Vietnamese woman but who was not completely thrilled when she found him in America. Together this stellar cast told a series of interrelated stories that indeed showed the very human side of both Vietnam and Afghanistan.”

Scene from Year of the Rabbit

Year of the Rabbit makes evident, with a fresh theatricality and original imagination, the historical and emotional connectedness we often wish to deny between what one might call Big History and the most intimate experiences of our lives. The play brings together the disparate worlds of love and war, and the collision is both disturbing and at times, deeply moving.” — Naomi Wallace, playwright and winner of the Obie Award

Read an interview with Keliher Walsh here. She says: “When America went to war in Iraq, everyone kept saying, ‘It’s just like Vietnam.’ I had two boys coming of age with Afghanistan starting. If there had been a draft, I would’ve been the first person chained to the White House gates. People said these wars were not the same. All wars are the same… in this big way, this cosmic way. Obviously, all wars aren’t the same in the details. But when it comes to a mother sending her 18-year-old to war… it’s the same. I wanted to explore a mother’s view of how it affected her, how it affects a mother who is in war, how women are collateral damage even though they’re not in the middle of the war.”

Year of the Rabbit runs from:

Friday, Sept 14–preview
Saturday, Sept 15–opening
runs: Sunday, Sept 16-Sunday, Oct. 28

Tickets – $15 previews, $25 Regular; buy them here.

 If you see these plays, be sure to tell us about them in the comments!



  1. Thanks for bringing to our attention, Viet. I would love to see this play in San Francisco Bay Area where I live. Definitely war affects individual lives in more ways than one could imagine – even the war’s participants or their bystanders victims. From the vantages of Vietnamese and Americans, and Vietnamericans such as myself. Year of the Rabbit would enrich those vantage points, mine, I’m sure.

    By the way, in Vietnamese it should be “Year of the Cat” not Rabbit, and I won’t go into it here, but as the Chinese would love to claim everything originate in their center of the Universe, the Zodiac actually was a Vietnamese invention (and there’s refuting evidence to that effect). So year of the Cat is more à-propos.


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