Publication Details

J. Hayes (2013). Crossing Cultures: A Vietnamese Experience. 11th July. ADSA Conference, Flinders University.


Intercultural theatrical performances, groups and workshops are not unusual events in Ho Chi Minh City despite an artistic environment still highly censored by government intervention. Performance collaborations between international theatre artists and Vietnamese practitioners have been facilitated through policies promoting international ‘educational’ exchange projects. In November 2011, I was invited to Ho Chi Minh City, by Australian-trained theatre director Le Quy Duong to lead a 10-day theatrical workshop, introducing western theatrical training techniques to his students. The LeQuyDuong Company is a festival events company, working across Vietnamese provinces to produce large-scale festival performance works. The nature and extent of my workshops expanded when the planned workshops were placed in Ho Chi Minh City’s Labor Theatre, a 500-seater, in the main District of the city. My work attracted the interest and then participation of theatre students from the Ho Chi Minh Drama Theatre. These were students of Khanh Hoang, specializing in ‘spoken drama’, the scripted forms of Vietnamese theatre that have proliferated since Vietnam’s colonisation, influenced by French, Russian, and more recently western European and American styles of scripted drama. Numbers of these students were actors from Khanh Hoang’s touring company. With a translator, Pham Huang Minh, who himself spoke limited English, and myself who knew no Vietnamese, my program was grounded on physical interactions, theatre games, the use of Augusto Boal’s theatre exercises and with reading bodies, across the gap of our differing cultures. This paper charts an experiential journey in intercultural theatrical communication.