VANG: A Drama about Recent Immigrant Farmers

Sunday, February 12, 2017 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Iowa poet laureate Mary Swander's acclaimed new play, VANG: A Drama about Recent Immigrant Farmers, will be staged in an exclusive production on Sunday, February 12, at 2pm, at the Old Capitol Senate Chambers in Iowa City, as a kickoff fundraiser for the new Iowa Valley Global Food Project.

“As a long-time admirer of Mary Swander’s poems, plays and stories about the broad range of cultures in Iowa, we are thrilled to sponsor an exclusive production of VANG in Iowa City,” said Ayman Sharif, President of the Iowa Valley Global Food Project in Johnson County. “Through a series of compelling stories, VANG opens a new window for our communities on the contributions of New Iowans in the area of farming and local food.”

The Iowa Valley Global Food Project (IVGFP) is a nonprofit coalition of eastern Iowa non-profits and community groups that are working together to make local food systems more inclusive by creating opportunities for local families and new Iowans to obtain greater access to food, land, and educational resources. The IVGFP is a member and endeavor with the James Gang, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit grassroots community-building organization based in Iowa City.

The special theatre production is cosponsored by the Center for Workplace Justice, the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, the UIowa Climate Narrative Project, the UIowa Environmental Coalition, and the Iowa-United Nations Association. 

Swander, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Dennis Chamberlin, and Kennedy Center award-winner Matt Foss collaborated to create VANG (meaning “garden” or “farm” in Hmong). Swander and Chamberlin documented recent Iowa immigrant farmers. Swander wound their words together to form a verbatim play that captures the immigrants’ journeys to the U.S. Hmong, Mexican, Sudanese, and Dutch immigrants all speak of their struggles, survival skills, and their intense desire to return to the land.

Chamberlin took stunning photos of the immigrants in their greenhouses, farms, and dairy barns. Foss added his theatrical brilliance to the production, bringing VANG to life on the stage. And Michael Ching, past executive director of the Memphis opera, composed music to underscore the play’s message.

With limited seating, advanced tickets will be available at the indiegogo fundraiser site:

Suggested donations are encouraged on a sliding scale—from $10-20-30-50-100—to support the community farm work of the IVGFP. 

Old Capitol Museum
21 North Clinton Street
Room: Senate Chambers
Iowa City, IA 52240
Community Event