Award-winning author and playwright Hoa Pham (The Other Shore, Wave) brings VIVID to Footscray Community Arts Centre this month. VIVID explores the life of Khanh, a Vietnamese Australian woman with schizophrenia who sees the ghost of her grandmother. We spoke to Hoa about the play and her work.
Please tell us a little bit about VIVID and describe your creative development process.
VIVID is inspired by my grandmother who suffered from schizophrenia and saw the ghost of my grandfather. Me and my brother decided that her seeing my grandfather was all right but it was when she saw choruses of cats meowing in an empty back yard that she was not all right.
I wrote Khanh to have hallucinations and delusions which on the outset seem like paranoid delusions but in fact are true and happen to groups of people such as refugees persecuted by the government.
The creative development was supported by the Lotus program for Asian Australian playwrights sponsored by Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (formerly Performance 4A) and Playwriting Australia. VIVID was also part of Cybec Electric a series of readings of Asian Australian playwrights sponsored by the Melbourne Theatre Company.
How does your work as a psychologist influence your writing?
It informs my representation of mental illness and responses to it.
Can you speak to the importance of Asian Australian representation in Australian literature?
Representation of Asian Australian experiences and culture is crucial for national Australian literature to be more representative of the cultures of our diverse communities. It informs and enlightens others as well as validating Asian Australians’ perspectives and experiences.
What do you hope audiences will take away from VIVID?
A new appreciation of sanity and what that means, and perhaps an added insight into Vietnamese Buddhism.
VIVID is a theatre piece written by Hoa Pham and directed by Wolf Heidecker. Featuring performances by Chi Nguyen, Moni Lai Storz, Jamie Vu and Joshua Monaghan. VIVID runs from 21-25 November in the FCAC Performance Space, with five shows only. Tickets can be purchased here.
1 – VIVID rehearsal – Moni La Storz (Ba). Image by Cheralyn Lim.
2 – VIVID rehearsal – Chi Nguyen (Khanh) and Moni La Storz (Ba). Image by Cheralyn Lim.