Written by Leilani Chan and Ova Saopeng

PERFORMANCE: A mother lives alone in the darkness. A father struggles to forget a lost war. A son battles in the streets of urban America. A daughter searches for answers in her community. Refugee Nation is about a young generation struggling to understand their history and the silence of an elder generation still healing from the traumas of war.

More than just a telling of Laotian American history, this three-person performance eloquently touches upon issues relating to the refugee experience, assimilation, generation gap, and mental health using drama, film, music, and audience interaction, and personalizes these issues through a genuine Laotian American perspective. The result is a performance that not only brings to light the hidden stories of Laotian Americans around the U.S., but one that is able to unite people from all types of backgrounds, ethnicities, and histories by relaying the ideas of change, loss, struggle, healing, and the unrelenting strength of the human spirit.

HISTORY: Since 2005 collaborators Leilani Chan and Ova Saopeng have been collecting oral histories from Laotian family and community members across the country to create an interdisciplinary theater performance that explores the impact of war, refugees, global politics and U.S. citizenship.  Through the collection of oral histories, the show reveals connections between American and Southeast Asian history, and the unique challenges faced by political refugees and their American children.  It gives voice to the Laotian Diaspora—yet to be included in the American experience. Refugee Nation continues to grow with the certainty of new refugee arrivals coming from the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. What can we learn from the wounds of a war 40 years ago that are still yet to be healed. 

This project was developed through a partnership with Legacies of War – an education and advocacy group dedicated to the removal of UXOs from Laos.   Refugee Nation received a MAP Fund and a NPN Creation Fund.

For more information, please visit the Refugee Nation site


Upcoming events

Interested in bringing Refugee Nation to your theatre? Email to book our show.

Previous Tours

Merced, CA- UC Merced Southeast Asian Symposium

Los Angeles, CA- Highways Performance Space

New York City, NY - Abingdon Theater

Boone, NC - Turchin Center for the Visual Arts Festival

Cambridge, MA - Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center

Anchorage, AK – Out North

Berkeley, CA - La Peña Cultural Center

Knoxville, TN - Carpetbag Theater

San Diego, CA – The Jacob Center

St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN – Intermedia Arts

Seattle, WA – Ethnic Cultural Theater University of Washington

Portland, OR – Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center

Minneapolis, MN – Intermedia Arts

Los Angeles,CA – Los Angeles Theater Center