I WAS BORN
I was born
I became conscious
I learned to crawl, to stand , to walk
I defied the force of gravity
I learned words
I expressed myself
I was able to want something
I learned rules
I learned to pretend
I came of age
I was able to tell my history
I became responsible
I expressed myself in action and in inaction
I lived one moment to the next
I broke my word
I did not think of the future
I was too much alone
I was not enough alone
I became guilty
I was not what I should have been
I am not what I was
I am aware
Juan Carlos Meza, inspired by Peter Hendke
My name is Songkra Kroung, but most people know me as Smiley. I am a Cambodian native.
CHOY STANDS WITH HIS BACK TO THE AUDIENCE, DOWN STAGE LEFT. SMILEY SPEAKS, DOWN STAGE RIGHT, AND GLANCES AT CHOY OCCASIONALLY, AS IF HE IS LOOKING AT A MIRROR/REFLECTION OF HIMSELF. CROSS UPSTAGE RIGHT, PASS THRU GINO/CARLOS.
I came to the United States as a refugee at the age of 9. I lived in Long Beach, California, from 1981 until I was incarcerated on July 10, 1990 for first-degree gang-related murder.
My name is Anouthinh Pangthong, but everyone calls me Choy. I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand.
LEANS ON SMILEY. LOS/CHRIS GET INTO ARM-GRIP.
My parents are from the neighbouring country of Laos, a country colonised by the French for many years. In 1945, after Laos gained independence from the French, it was the communist regime that took over the government.
JUMPS ONTO ‘LOS/CHRIS’ ARM-BRIDGE.
GINO/CARLOS STOMP AND LIFT SMILEY.
I was raised during the time of the Khmer Rouge genocide. By the age of three, my father, aunt and grandparents were captured and tortured to death by the Khmer Rouge.
CHRIS/’LOS STEP SIDE TO SIDE (STRUGGLE MARCH). CHOY IN BETWEEN, SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER.
The Lao people have endured relentless mistreatment from their own government. My grandfather, who was in opposition to the government, was held in a re-education camp for ten years.
LOS/CHRIS ON THE GROUND IN AN “X” FORMATION.
There he suffered deplorable conditions and slave labour.
CHOY STEPS ON AND OVER THEM.
My father was a lieutenant in the army of the central Cambodian government.
SMILEY DROPS TO KNEES.
The Khmer Rouge took my father into the jungle and murdered him. His murderers brought his heart to my mother to terrorise and intimate her. They ate my father’s heart in front of her.
GESTURES TO CHEST, PULLING HEART OUT DROP HAND.
I can’t imagine the emotional pain, sadness, and stress that my mother went through on that day. The Khmer Rouge would continue their mass murders.
GINO/CARLOS SWING HIM FORWARD
In 1979 my mother made a decision to leave the country
CHRIS GETS OFF LOS (BREAKS THE “X” FORMATION), LIES NEXT TO LOS FACING THE SAME DIRECTION
SMILEY FALLS TO GROUND. GINO/CARLOS GO TO UPSTAGE RIGHT WITH THEIR BACKS TO THE AUDIENCE.
She crossed a river, downstream, to neighbouring Thailand.
“LOS” ROLL UPSTAGE TO DOWNSTAGE, WITH GINO/CARLOS KICKING THEM.
A bicycle inner tube helped her to stay afloat.
CHOY LEANS ON SMILEY. SMILEY HOLDS HIM UP, LIKE A BABY.
She was two months pregnant with me.
I witnessed and encountered starvation, disease, torture, suffering, pain, stress, crying, confusion, and death. Even though I was young and barely understanding of my surroundings, I did feel hunger, sadness, fear and hopelessness.
EVERYONE CIRCLES BEHIND CHOY.
Once on the other side of the river, a farm worker and his family gave my mother refuge. Soon after, she made her way to the refugee camp. On May 24, 1980, the story of my life begins.
Anouthinh Pangthong & Kroung Songkra
BANKS-LIST OF PEOPLE SHOT
Ahi James Williams