By Steven Leigh Morris
Henry Ong is a playwright who has lived in Los Angeles for “about 35 years, since the early 1980s,” he says. Those in the LA theater community may know him for his promotion, not of himself, but of individuals within our community on social media. He attends plays as a matter of habit, as an Ovation Awards voter. In the lobby or outside whatever theater he may find himself at, he pulls out his cellphone and snaps photos of people hanging around – but only with their permission. You may find these photos on Facebook, usually with the caption, something like : “Who are these famous people?” (more…)
All Photos by Peter Konerko for @ This Stage Magazine
HENRY ONG // artist profile
What energizes you as an artist?
Ideas, visuals, story, language. I love theater. Imbibing everything about live theater that makes it exciting and immediate. I especially like new works, imaginative productions, mercurial actors, and audacious, truthful writing. (more…)
U.S. playwright Henry Ong, author of a stage adaptation of Anthony Trollope‘s 19th century novel, Rachel Ray, has been selected to participate in The Trollope Society (UK)’s Great Barset Balloonathon.
On February 7, the Trollope Society will release 200 red helium balloons (bearing an Anthony Trollope logo) in London at noon to kick off a series of activities that will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope‘s birthday. Additional balloons will be released around the world at places visited by Trollope during his lifetime, including other places in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia and the United States. Ong will release two balloons in Los Angeles, California on February 7 at noon (Los Angeles time).
Henry Ong’s latest riveting drama, “Sweet Karma,” gets its well-mounted West Coast premiere at the Grove Theater Center, with a strong cast led by Jon Jon Briones, grippingly sensational as Vichear, a fictional counterpart of the real-life Dr. Haing S. Ngor — the Cambodian doctor who won an Oscar portraying himself in the 1984 movie “The Killing Fields.”
Ong does not hold back in showing the unsympathetic warts of Vichear, beginning with his murder and going backward into his life. As a matter of fact, by the time the play does end with the murder depicted again, any sympathy/empathy one might have had for Vichear has been totally eviscerated by the events in the preceding 85 minutes. Vichear comes off as self-centered and self-serving, even though he’s taken the noble profession of a doctor. Vichear leaves a patient to die on his operating table; and, in a decisive moment with the life of his beloved in his hands, Vichear chokes. Vichear’s attempt to make the right decision in the final moments of his life comes off as too little, too late. “Karma” seems to refer to his murder.
From April 1975 until January 1979, the country of Cambodia was ruled by the notorious political party called the Khmer Rouge. Its extreme ideals of communism intended to eradicate not only wealth and social class but also to repress basic civil and human rights. These attempts to create a completely self-sustained agricultural state essentially transformed the country into a massive labor camp where families were separated and organized resistance was stomped out by torture and executions. Unknown to most of the world during its rampage, the Khmer Rouge was blamed for the deaths of nearly two million Cambodians. Its actions during that era are now often called theCambodian genocide.
Henry Ong’s new play, Sweet Karma, takes its inspiration from one man’s survival of the Khmer Rouge and the extraordinary turn of events that occurred later in his life — including an Academy Award for best supporting actor and a violent ending on the streets of Los Angeles. Karma opens Saturday at Grove Theater Center Burbank.
GROVE THEATER CENTER PRESENTS
THE WEST COAST PREMIERE OF
HENRY ONG’S “SWEET KARMA,”
OPENING MAY 10 FOR FIVE-WEEK RUN
The play explores the real life tragic story of ban Oscar-winning actor who survived the
brutal Khmer Rouge regime,only to be fatally gunned down in the streets of Los Angeles