"You brought the humanity out in me." — CB
"The need to be perfect and over-achieving, to fulfill the immigrant dream of 'doing better' in this land of opportunity. The inferiority I felt to the mainstream, seemingly confident, relaxed American girls at school, and wanting to be more like them. So, thank you for struggling with it, privately and publicly." — KW
“I kept thinking about it all day. Kept thinking about how to put it into perspective and where it fits in my experiences. Much more rare than other theater pieces I’ve seen.” — BD
“140 LBS” is a solo performance written and performed by Susan Lieu, a first-generation American born to Vietnamese refugees. “140 LBS” is the true story of how Susan’s mother went in for plastic surgery and died due to medical malpractice. At the time of her mother’s death, Susan was 11 years old. Read about the true story here. The performance weaves together several through-lines: the multi-generational immigrant experience; body insecurity and shame; repression and subsequent examination of 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” will make its world premier as a full-length production February 7-17, 2019 at Theatre Off Jackson in Seattle, Washington. The show has been supported by local to statewide entities, including the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture of King County, Artist Trust and STG. It has been featured on NPR, KING5 News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly. Susan has performed excerpts for audiences at On The Boards, Bumbershoot, RISK! podcast, World Economic Forum, SF LitCrawl with She Who Has No Master Collective, and Harvard University.