"There's this cylclone, see, and she and her dog twirl over the rainbow and find themselves in a land of munchkins who tell her she has killed the wicked witch and they want her to live with them but she just wants to go home so they advise her to follow the yellow brick road to find the wizard and he can give her what she needs. On the way to find him she meets a scarecrow with no brain, a tin man with no heart and a lion with no courage..."
This is me trying to explain the story of The Wizard of Oz to Thuy and Thanh after T, K and I introduced them to samosas, butter chicken, fish curry, briyani and eggplant bartha at our favorite Indian restaurant. This entire night must have seemed so strange to them.
Really, though, how do you translate "scarecrow" into gestures? "Tin Man" was easier since the water cups were made of tin. I pointed at the cup and said "he's a man made out of that." Clear as mud, or tin, or whatever.
When I was done, Thanh tried to encourage me. "I understand half of what you said."
But during the show, I couldn't stop looking over at Thuy...every time the shadow dancers took the stage, her eyes lit up magically. She was lost in a dream world - which is what happens when anyone sees the shadow dancers perform - but I could tell she was especially touched by it. And she loved Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and of course, Alice's "King of Darkness" - laughing at all the appropriate places.
After the play, though, she kept doing the hand movements of the first shadow dancer, from "Maiden Dance."
"So beautiful," she kept saying. And this morning, same thing. "So beautiful. Thank you."
It is a beautiful show. It's a cute show without the shadow, but the shadow element makes it breathtaking - the dancers (slaves in the picture below) are amazing kids who know what kind of gift they have been given in Alice this year. As for Alice, it's her directorial debut, and she feels very fortunate to have a pool of dancers with so much talent. Director, choreographer, costume designer, stage manager - she did it all, and she did it in a foreign culture that didn't understand what she was trying to do. (I'm really sorry - I have tried and tried to load videos of the shadow dances but have been unsuccessful - they are so difficult to explain with words.)
Anyway, both T and T loved the play. Now, the Indian meal - I'm not so sure about that. They were quiet and conservative during dinner, and after the meal when I asked them if they liked it, Thuy said, "It was good. Sunday. We take you to Vietnamese Barbecue."
In other words, let's get back to the good stuff.