Tony Aidan Vo, Carolina Do and More to Take Part in COLLECTIVE STORIES
The Song Collective, in partnership with Second Generation Productions (2g), will present Collective Stories, an evening of works by 10 multidisciplinary Vietnamese artists. After a series of story circle sessions inspired by Free Southern Theatre's methods, each artist was given the freedom to devise personal works born out of these discussions. The culmination is an online multimedia event including video, music, and poetry that explores facets of the Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American identity.
The presentation will be live streamed via The Song Collective's YouTube channel on Wednesday, May 20, at 5pm PT/8 pm ET. It is free to view with donations being collected to support efforts by the NYC non-profit, RAISE (Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast) who is providing financial aid to undocumented workers. Collective Stories is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Among the artists presenting works include Jonathan Castanien (co-founder, The Song Collective), Carolina Do (actor, Grand Horizons), Dinh Doan (actor, No-No Boy), David Huynh (actor, The Emperor's Nightingale), ÊMIA (musician), Yên Nguyen (actor/model), Maria Ta (Program Director, Ujima Company), Michelle Vo (actor, "Bull"), and Tony Aidan Vo (musician/actor, "Queen Sugar").
The Song Collective was founded by Vietnamese theatre artists: David Huynh, Jonathan Castanien, and Carolina Do, in the spring of 2019 as a response to the United States' sharp cuts to refugee resettlement in the face of a global refugee crisis. The Song Collective's mission is to reclaim the Vietnamese American narrative by creating development and performance opportunities for emerging artists of color. They nurture a community of artists whose work explores questions of identity, race, intersectionality, immigration, and the refugee experience. They are dedicated to telling stories that dare to subvert preconceptions of Asian Americans.
"Community has always been the heart of our events and the reason we give a platform to artists," says Song Collective co-founder, David Huynh. "Even in these isolating times, we were driven to find a way in which we could help others feel less alone, while also actively finding meaningful ways to help communities affected by this pandemic. We're excited to bring attention to RAISE."
RAISE is a pan-Asian undocumented youth group based on the East Coast. Founded after Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced by the Obama Administration, RAISE aims to create safe spaces in immigrant and Asian American communities while advocating for humane immigration policies. RAISE uplifts the leadership of immigrant and LGBTQ youth through organizing, leadership development, community education, and coalition building. Through political activism, RAISE organizes at the grassroots level to reimagine justice, reclaim the dignity of pan-Asian undocumented people, and center the voices of immigrant and LGBTQ youth in the fight for immigrant rights.
Undocumented people in dense urban areas face particular challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. Compelled by this knowledge and the desire to help, RAISE has responded immediately to the coronavirus pandemic to support the undocumented population by creating the Undocu Workers Fund, a grassroots effort to provide monetary, immediate relief to individuals/families in the form of mini-grants of $200.
"Undocumented Asian Americans constitute a powerful political force," says Audrey Pan, Community Organizer for RAISE. "Our stories highlight the complex realities of the Asian American community beyond the culture of assimilation and model minority racial tokenism that renders invisible the violence of poverty and racism the API communities face everyday."