Joe Ngo's WORDS WORDS...selected for Barn Arts Collective Residency

Actor, writer, musician Joe Ngo.

Actor, writer, musician Joe Ngo.

Leviathan artist Joe' Ngo has been selected for a week-long residency at Barn Arts Collective in Maine to develop his solo performance work WORDS WORDS... which will culminate in a public showing of the work at one of Barn Arts performance spaces from October 8 – 15. Leviathan Lab will be a producing partner of the piece, as part of Leviathan's Solo Work program that works to develop actors most deeply personal stories for performance.

In WORDS WORDS..., Joe explores the connection between language, cultural heritage, and memory after a conversation with his Cambodian refugee mother, fraught with mutual misunderstanding, threatens their loving bond. As Joe struggles to find the right words in his native Teo Chew language, new ways of finding connection emerge, even as both he and his mother assert their cultural pride and emotional resilience against forces that continually attempt to erase and subsume their original identities.

WORDS WORDS... is a story about communication between immigrants to the United States who speak English as a second language, and their English speaking children. “Words Words…” asserts that language shapes one’s view of the world, and asks, how does a Cambodian war refugee see the United States through the perspective speaking Khmer provides? How is communication affected between parents and their American children when the children speak Khmer as a second language? And finally, how do both parents and children assert their complicated identities and histories through language, even as the overwhelming American cultural imperative to speak English strives to erase any other means of seeing the world?



The Barn Arts Collective creates and encourages community through the practice and presentation of live arts events. The mission of the organization is three-fold:

  • To create original works of theatre for audiences of all ages
  • To organize and engage the local community in performing arts education
  • To provide residencies for artists making new works of performance

The Barn Arts Collective has performed and taught at schools, camps, libraries, community centers, and in Acadia National Park. The work takes the form of theatre productions, concerts, discussions, film screenings, workshops and variety shows and uses elements of music, film, puppetry, comedy, drama, and dance.