"A Different Pond" brings story of Vietnamese family, hope and Minnesota to life

"A Different Pond" brings story of Vietnamese family, hope and Minnesota to life

HOPKINS, Minn. -- Stages Theatre Company and Theatre Mu are collaborating to bring a beloved children's book to a new audience. It's also an opportunity to give a voice to an under-represented group in literature and theatre -- Asian-Americans.

The immigrant story is based on the award-winning book "A Different Pond," a memoir by celebrated local poet, Bao Phi. It features fifth-grader Benji Stoebner, 10, in his Stages Theatre Company debut. He first read the book in first grade.

"I really liked it and also since the author and illustrator were both Vietnamese. And also the book was about a Vietnamese family, and I liked it because of that," he said. "There's a lot of memories that bring everybody back in time to when they were inside Vietnam. But some of them are sad memories."

One of the challenges of taking a short beloved children's book and bringing it to the theatre is doing it justice while expanding the story.

"It's one thing to have what is essentially almost like a sitcom, small moments in a book and to make this into an hour long piece that adults and children can sit through and see a thorough line," said Theater Mu Managing Director Anh Thu Pham. "It amounts to a day in the life of a Vietnames American family/"

Stoebner says a "A Different Pond" has an important message for everyone, young and old.

"I think it's important so people can learn more than just their culture because if they just know their culture they'll never be able to access the rest of the world," he said.

"A Different Pond" is playing at Stages Theatre Company through Oct. 23. Tickets are under $20 for adults and kids.

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