I was sitting on my motorbike outside of a normal-looking house in the Thao Dien area of District 2.
It was a time when conflicting ideologies came face to face. East versus West. At the height of the Cold War, British diplomat John Ramsden, who had earlier worked in Senegal and at the East-West disarmament talks in Vienna, was posted to Hanoi. It was 1980.
The innermost corridor of Dan Sinh market is a dizzying labyrinth of everything and nothing. Hugging most of the walls are wobbly tables littered with rusty coins, old spoons, ageing jewellery and faded crockery. From the walls hang lumpy curtains of old hats, boots, canteens and medals. Clocks whose hands stopped ticking decades ago collect dust alongside metal fans on shelving units balanced precariously on the tabletops. Most of the passers-by become amateur antiquarians; inspecting objects while speculating about how old each is, bargaining with the shop owners half-heartedly.
A decade ago, there was no such thing as English-language theatre in Ho Chi Minh City — that is until a small group of foreign thespians, bent on creating an outlet for the theatrically inclined, decided to change that. Alison Bredin, Ann Walkin, Joe Springer-Miller, Frank Christensen, Ro Verdeja and David Hope all joined forces to bring to life a new opportunity in the urban metropolis. The Saigon Players community theatre was born in 2003, performing their first production A Dog’s Life the following year to an enthusiastic audience of expats and locals alike.
Katie Jacobs goes in search of the perfect urban complex. Might it be located in the newly opened Vincom Royal City in Thanh Xuan? Photos by Francis Roux
Ed Weinberg meets two women propping up Vietnam’s craft heritage by means of the collaborative social enterprise, Fashion4Freedom, and a very impressive shoe. Photos by Nick Ross
We’re in Q4, a massive warehouse-cum-event space that will be the eventual setting of the production’s opening night. Right now, though, it is littered with stools, plush armchairs and wobbly sofas that Aaron is shoving across the uneven asphalt floor to create a makeshift stage. He takes a few steps back to survey his work, pausing to contemplate, and then begins approximating the stage dimensions by striding around the room in long, even steps, counting as he goes.