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Pulling up into Qui Nguyen's VIETGONE

Hark, opening night is upon us!

From CLTC: Quang (Jomar Tagatac*, right) and his buddy Nhan (Tasi Alabastro) ponder the open road on their epic American road trip. Photo by Christian Pizzirani, taken at Veggielution's community farm in East San Jose. Photo by Christian Pizzirani

In late 2017, I was pacing mindfully in a short corridor in a handsome building on Grant Avenue. I'd just been on a train for what seemed like forever and was eager to get circulation back into my limbs. I was there for a callback for Qui Nguyen's VIETGONE (see synopsis below).

"Who is Nhan?", "What does he want?", "How is he going about what he wants?" are all questions I was asking myself then. I was shuffled into the room by the wonderful Ken Savage and subsequently met the director, Jaime Castañeda. The then A.C.T. casting director, Janet Foster, was also in the room and shared a warm smile with me. If you've never participated in a callback or audition it can sometimes feel like a blur. If I'm being honest I don't know if that sensation ever goes away. But of the things I do recall, it's the kindness in Ken's eyes, the warmth of Janet's smile, and the adjustment Jamie gave me, "You're desperately trying to convince your best friend not to go home because if he does, he'll be killed.".

That was four years ago.

I was not cast in that production.

But I did have another chance for a second crack at it years later when it was produced at Cap Stage but due to existing scheduling commitments with work, I couldn't in good conscience participate in the callbacks.

A lot has happened during this time: I met Sam, my partner who I adore deeply, and we moved in together. I learned to bake bread. My hair grew out past my shoulders and sprung back in coils. I got involved in a most wonderful D&D campaign with some amazing friends. A global pandemic began a new pulse of normal (we're still in it). And I've finally come around to kale.

Flash forward to the present day; four years to the month of that first callback at A.C.T. and I'm dutifully stepping into Nhan and stirring through the same questions, and then some, and I'm getting somewhere. I'm finding truth, vulnerability, and courage to earn this role fully. What's more, there's an entire team of amazing talent propelling this journey! This past weekend saw the wrap of our tech rehearsal and we move into dress, preview, and finally, opening night on Saturday. Will you be there?

L-R: 1. Designers plugging away during tech rehearsal. 2. Actors Melissa Jones and Amanda Le Nguyen catch a break between light cues. 3. Director Jeffrey Lo approaches the cast for notes and anecdotes.

For more behind-the-scenes photos and updates, be sure to follow me on Instagram at

Meanwhile, half a world away there's an escalating conflict with Ukraine being invaded by Russia and sometimes a story like this serves as a reminder that people, and future generations of communities, are at the center of it. That we have a responsibility to each other's well-being through communal storytelling and action.

Let's hold to that.


Show info:

VIETGONE by Qui Nguyen at City Lights Theater Company

Opens March 26th, 2022

Closes April 24th, 2022

Pay What You Can Night - Thursday, March 24th, 2022, 8pm.

Tickets and show info:

Additional event: "Backstage" on Zoom, a chat with the team

Community partner: Chopsticks Alley Art. Chopsticks Alley Art promotes Southeast Asian cultural heritage through art exhibits, classes, performances, and events. The organization celebrates and fosters greater understanding and connects communities through the arts.


Summary: An all-American love story about two very new Americans. It’s 1975. Saigon has fallen. He lost his wife. She lost her fiancé. But now in a new land, they just might find each other. Using his uniquely infectious style The New York Times calls “culturally savvy comedy” – and skipping back and forth from the dramatic evacuation of Saigon to the here and now – playwright Qui Nguyen gets up close and personal to tell the story that led to the creation of… Qui Nguyen. (from Concord Theatricals)

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