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SAIGON: Between Life and History

People – families – of diaspora carry the traces of change: new circumstances, different languages, uncertainty and often trauma. How do the ghosts of history and geography affect the everyday experiences and identities of people today? And what happens when the places where your parents and grandparents lived no longer exist – or you don’t share a language with your parents because you grew up in different places?

For Asia TOPA 2020, theatre director Caroline Guiela Nguyen presents SAIGON – a moving family saga tracing the paths of 11 characters across history and space. She’ll join Australian writer Benjamin Law for a conversation about their work in theatre and comedy, as well as the intergenerational, intercultural dimensions of their work – treasured by audiences, but largely missing from international stages. Hosted by Beverley Wang.

Presented in partnership with Asia TOPA.


Portrait of Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law writes books, TV screenplays, columns, essays and feature journalism. He’s the author of the memoir The Family Law (2010), the travel book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) – both nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards – and the Quarterly Essay on Safe Schools, Moral Panic 101 (2017). The Family Law is now also an award-winning TV series for SBS, which Benjamin created and co-writes.

Portrait of Caroline Guiela Nguyen

Caroline Guiela Nguyen

Caroline Guiela Nguyen has written and directed for the stage and screen. Her works manifest a passion for both fiction and the real, which she explores conjointly by bringing together amateur and professional actors coming from different social, geographic, cultural and spiritual horizons, so that, in her own words, 'different worlds should meet and together we try to invent a common space'. Her singular devising process involves letting the fiction emerge directly from the work she undertakes with her actors. Though she has both feet securely anchored in the real, she insists that the greatest arm we possess today is our imagination: what indeed would become of us humans if we were no longer able to imagine what being human meant?

Portrait of Beverley Wang

Beverley Wang

Beverley Wang is a journalist, broadcaster and creator of the ABC podcast It’s Not A Race, which has been hailed as a ground-breaking series opening up conversations on race in Australia. She is also the producer and co-host of Stop Everything! on ABC RN, focusing on the politics of pop culture.  

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