Reincarnation Soup at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Reincarnation Soup

Reincarnation Soup. Photo credit: Miguel Naranjo

Reincarnation Soup. Photo credit: Miguel Naranjo

Acacia Hall (10433 83 avenue), August 14-17, 19, 20, 22
More information:

Describe your show in 5 words.

Soup, Saigon, and recycled souls.
Alright, now that we’re intrigued, what’s the longer version?

The show’s title refers to the myth of Manh Ba, an old blind woman who guards the border between death and rebirth. (The myth has Taoist roots, with some Buddhist influences thrown in there.) So the reincarnation policy goes like this: After we die, most of us will go to the underworld, where we may serve various degrees of time and punishment for misdeeds we committed when we were alive. Then we will get into Manh Ba’s line for a bowl of soup. The soup will erase all our memories. Only then will our souls be allowed to move on to their next lives.

In Reincarnation Soup, some Vietnamese souls share their stories.

What inspired you to write a show about the woman guarding the gate between life and death?

I think the show came out of necessity. I needed to tell Vietnamese stories, where none seemed to exist in American theatre. Vietnamese mythologies and histories and my parents’ stories were bubbling in my mind, and as I was trying to make sense of them, this theme of waiting kept coming back to me. Waiting led to the line, and the line led to Manh Ba.

Writing a show rooted in such spiritual matters, I imagine you must have learnt something new about yourself or society in relation to mortality or spirituality. Is there anything you learnt or discovered you’d like to share?

Much of the anxiety surrounding mortality seems to come from not knowing. I saw this a lot with patients when I worked as a hospice social worker– the pain of not knowing exactly what will happen next, what will be kept, and what will be left behind. Writing the show has given me a way to process my thoughts about this dying thing. I’ve learned to be comfortable with uncertainty, to a certain extent.

This is the Canadian première of Reincarnation Soup. Where else have you performed it and how have audiences reacted?

I first performed the show at the 2010 Orlando Fringe, and then as a slightly-edited version at the 2014 Orlando Fringe. (Reincarnation made a comeback!) The audiences have been wonderfully receptive. I’ve been lucky to have had many thoughtful conversations with audience members after performances, and they seemed to connect with both the specificity of the stories and the universality of the themes.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about the show, people you’d like to mention who have been involved, other great Fringe shows to plug, etc.

I may approach you during the festival with an offer of soup. Also, as the show is a drama, you may experience some “feels” (see Urban Dictionary). But not to worry– I will share some funnies as well.

The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 13 – 23. Get your tickets at starting August 4.

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