OACC is excited to bring 140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother to a broader API audience through a virtual screening event hosted on Saturday, November 14. The solo theater work is written and performed by Susan Lieu, a first-generation American born to Vietnamese refugees. The performance weaves together several through-lines: inter-generational trauma; parent-child relationships; body insecurity and shame; repression and healing from personal loss; lack of accountability in the medical system; Vietnamese folkloric practice of spirit channeling.
Two hours into surgery, Susan’s mother loses oxygen to her brain and the plastic surgeon deliberately does not call 9-1-1 for fourteen minutes. Five days later, while in a coma, she flatlines. The surgeon is charged with medical negligence and her family falls apart; no one talks about what happened. Nineteen years later on her wedding day, Susan’s mother’s seat sits empty and Susan realizes she can no longer ignore what she’s always wanted: to know who her mother was. Sifting through thousands of deposition pages and reaching out to the killer’s family, Susan uncovers the painful truth of her mother, herself, and the impossible ideal of Vietnamese feminine beauty.
140 LBS speaks to a wide variety of communities as it lies at the intersection of different identities and lived experiences. The show brings forth questions of medical ethics, psychology, family narrative, and gender, and intersects with theater and performance, memory studies, Vietnamese language and culture, mental health and wellness, female empowerment, trauma and healing, and Asian American identity.
This program is supported by a grant from the Alameda County Arts Commission
Before the screening event, OACC will host a preview of the screening with a virtual panel discussion on Saturday, August 29, from 2-3PM PST via ZOOM. Love Me As I Am: How to Have an Inter-generational Conversation on Beauty Standards and Self-Worth includes panelists Susan Lieu (artist and producer of 140LBS), Cindy Nguyen (a postdoctoral fellow teaching Southeast Asian history at Brown University), and Nelly Nguyen ( a retired CM analyst and Vietnam War refugee) as they hold difficult conversations about parent-child relationships in Asian families. Inspired by the themes conveyed in 140LBS, the panel will approach parent-child communication with genuine anecdotes and helpful tools that provide a better understanding of family relationships and improve personal growth for a healthier mindset.