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Student Spotlight: Phi Phi Anh Nguyen 11F

Submitted by on January 2, 2013 – 8:26 amNo Comment

STUDENT Phi Phi Anh Nguyen 11F spent last summer in his home country of Vietnam, juxtaposing elements of American and Vietnamese cultures in a musical.

His work, entitled Corner of Fame, combines melodies from popular American songs with lyrics Nguyen wrote himself.

Phi Phi Anh Nguyen 11F

Photo by Thang Nguyen

“I used American songs with Vietnamese lyrics,” he says. “The costumes and settings are very American, the language is Vietnamese, and the cultural references and parodies are Vietnamese. I wanted to write a story that my people could relate to; that’s why I translated the lyrics as well.”

Nguyen says musicals are rare in Vietnam, which is why in the musical he sought to combine specific Vietnamese traits with American traits.

The plot revolves around a love triangle among a singer, Roxanne; a construction worker named Flint; and Rudolph, a humanized version of the iconic reindeer. Roxanne leaves Flint for Rudolph, tempted by his promises of fame, only to find the realities of fame unrewarding.

The production of Corner of Fame has been a labor-intensive process for Nguyen, who spent four years writing the piece. Last April, when he completed a final draft of the script, he appealed to a number of large companies in Vietnam for assistance. Several provided financial backing, legal assistance, or public-relations advice.

In August, the play had five showings to sold-out audiences in Hanoi. “It was extremely well received; I think I did surprisingly well,” Nguyen says. “The economy is getting worse, people aren’t interested in paying money to see a show, and we sold out five shows. It was a success.”

Nguyen, now in his second year of college, says the freedom Hampshire affords him provides a foundation from which to learn:

“I just want to get more knowledge,” he says. “That’s the important thing. I really want to create, and the only way I can create is to have a good foundation.”

Read more from the Winter 2012/2013 edition of NSS >>