“A DREAM IN HANOI” * Language was a big barrier where translation was necessary most of the time. * Differing cultural practices – for example, kissing in Vietnamese theatres was considered as somewhat taboo by the Vietnamese actors, particularly the women. * The institution of government was different (Communist) – the Vietnamese government even eventually got involved in the execution of play (cancelled). * Lack of schedule orientation and differing interpretation of time was odd to the Americans – for example, the “excessively” long lunch breaks, work hours, etc. Play itself is described as complicated and is in two different languages * Stage managers have different visions of the play (or example: using 6 servants vs. 1 servant). * Difference in opinion on how Helena should be played “Vietnamese women would never love a man like that” shows dissimilarity between what is considered desirable by the different cultures. * Fear of communication breakdown was an obstacle. * Americans wanted to stay truer to the script, while the Vietnamese were okay with emitting lines claiming certain themes/messages were already conveyed or implied (Perhaps this has something to do with a high context vs. ow context language). * Vietnamese seemed to be open to telling others how to do something, while the Americans found it offensive and rude (examples include dissatisfaction with how the costume looked). * Differing views in what is considered feminine (For example: women being on knees). * A feeling of disrespect was a common obstacle (Vietnamese man claimed that mutual respect was the most important thing that was needed). * Initial lack of compromise * Technological differences (outdated light board) and written language (Russian). Ways some of the issues could have been avoided?
Some of these problems could have been avoided if the Americans, who were going to a foreign country, would have put more effort into learning about the Vietnamese culture. For example, knowing about how the Vietnamese view time would have caused less shock to the American’s and they would better have known what to expect upon arrival. Better planning would have also eased some conflicts. In moments of extreme disagreement, better implementation of compromise would have helped ease tensions. Although translators did suffice, some prior familiarity with the language would also have benefited the Americans.