May Lee-Yang, River Stories
“…a storytelling / listening / sharing / installation about Southeast Asians, our relationship to water, and each other.”
River Stories was a storytelling / listening / sharing / installation about Southeast Asians, our relationship to water, and each other. Comedy and commentary collide as the artists explored subversive folktales, mandatory migrations, and invasive Asian carps that threaten American waters.
Throughout the evening, participants listened to stories, songs, and poems on cassette tapes, which often served as letters for Hmong refugees who were pre-literate. Participants were also invited to record their own stories for the public to hear.
These themed performances ran throughout the evening for approximately 20 minutes each:
9:30 PM Fairytale and Folktales
10:30 PM When White Intentions Go Wrong (aka Environmental Racism)
11:30 PM Our Relationship to Water and Each Other
12:30 PM Love on the River
2:00 AM Improv Hour
4:00 AM When White Intentions Go Wrong (aka Environmental Racism)
Deviser/Director: May Lee-Yang
Writers/Performers: Denise Hanh Huynh, May Lee-Yang, Sophak Mom, Yeej Moua, and Lyncy Yang
Lighting Designer: Kathy Maxwell
May Lee-Yang is a playwright, poet, prose writer, and performance artist. Her theater-based works have been presented locally at Mu Performing Arts, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT), Intermedia Arts as well as nationally at Out North Theater (Anchorage) and the National Asian American Theater Festivals in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Her plays include Hmong-Lao Friendship Play or Lao-Hmong Friendship Play, Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman and The Child’s House. In 2014, she launched Letters to Our Grandchildren, a theater/food/storytelling/ video project with Hmong elders. She has received additional support for her artwork from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the MRAC Next Step Grant, the Jerome Travel Grant, the National Performance Network, the Midwestern Voices and Visions Residency Award, the Playwright Center, and the Kundiman Retreat.
Denise Hanh Huynh is a local activist and artist. She is always learning through her work with youth, research, and community. Her creative work is grounded in themes around identity, home, and longing. Her first loves are reading and writing, namely poetry and children’s literature. Recently, her poetry has appeared in the Saint Paul Sidewalk Poetry project and with Coffee House Press. She has spoken in community, with public schools, at universities, and colleges like Saint Paul Public Schools, the University of Minnesota, and Macalester College.
Sophak Mom is a researcher based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. While she works broadly on social issues, her primary interests include mental health and trauma-informed care, arts-based interventions, as well as equity and inclusion. She is committed to providing culturally respectful and methodologically appropriate research and evaluation. In her free time, you can find Sophak exploring natural history with her child and anonymously entering poetry contests. Sophak is a native of Minneapolis.
Yeej Moua is a filmmaker, singer-songwriter, and an actor. He graduated from the University of Montana with his BFA in Media Arts, emphasis in digital filmmaking and a minor in Theatre. Having only been in the Twin Cities for a little less than a year, Yeej strives to continue his craft as an artist.
Lyncy Yang is an emerging writer from St. Paul, MN. She has participated in the Hmong Women’s Writing Circle to continue to develop her writing. A secondary language arts teacher by trade, Lyncy has worked at the Science Museum of Minnesota as a Teaching Specialist for the Science House Professional Development Group since 2015. There, she works with educators on equity and inclusion to strengthen student achievement in schools. As a Minnesota native, Lyncy has unstoppable excitement for the arts and the outdoors. She bikes regularly, shares vegetables from her garden, and in her free time explores the world of canoeing, hiking, and camping.