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140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother


  • Joe’s Movement Emporium 3309 Bunker Hill Road Mount Rainier United States (map)

Written and Performed by Susan Lieu

Total Run Time: 75 Minutes (no intermission)

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 is a theatrical, autobiographical solo dramedy written & performed by Susan Lieu. Directed by Sara Porkalob. 140 LBS has been featured on NPR, The San Francisco Chronicle, ABC7 News, CAAMFest 37, and The Moth Mainstage. The San Francisco Chronicle calls it "fascinating, touching, upsetting, poignant, startling, affecting, engrossing, emotional, informative and, more than anything, humane." 140 LBS had a sold-out world premiere February 2019 in Seattle, sold-out premiere in San Francisco in May 2019, and is making its premiere in Washington D.C., co-presented by Ally Theatre Company and Nasus Media at Joe's Movement Emporium.

The November 7th show will feature a 30-minute post-show talkback with the artist moderated by Dr. Jia Li Liu, the Calvin J. postdoctoral fellow in the Asian American Studies Program, and Dr. Terry K Park, a lecturer in the Asian American Studies Program, both at University of Maryland. Dr. Liu's research interests include cross-cultural parenting, the effects of child temperament on development, and the creation of culture-sensitive parent education programs for immigrant families. Dr. Park provides a perspective on Asian American performance through a history scholarly lens.

About the Artist

Susan Lieu is a Vietnamese-American activist playwright and performer who tells stories that refuse to be forgotten. With a vision for individual and community healing—made possible through the interplay of comedy and drama—her work delves deeply into the lived realities of body insecurity, grieving, and trauma.  Her first work, 140 LBS: HOW BEAUTY KILLED MY MOTHER, is a solo theatrical show about the true story of how Lieu lost her mother to plastic surgery malpractice when she was 11 years old and her search to find the man responsible for her mother's death. Lieu plays 11 characters in 75 minutes, weaving the story through the lens of the Vietnamese refugee experience.  She has been featured at CAAMFest37, The Moth Mainstage, and RISK!  Susan is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale School of Management. 

Press

diaCRITICS, “140 LBS of Emotion,” February 14, 2019.

Drama in the Hood, “140 LBS a Powerful, One-Woman Show,” February 18, 2019.

International Examiner, “Five reasons why you should see Susan Lieu’s one-woman show 140 LBS: How
Beauty Killed My Mother,” February 6, 2019.
Northwest Asian Weekly, “Parent-child relationships, loss, beauty, and forgiveness,” June 8, 2018.

Northwest Asian Weekly, “‘140 LBS,’ a play about a daughter’s revenge & the loss of her mom,” February 8,
2019.

Seattle Gay Scene, “In the Sharp & Witty 140 LBS, Solo Performer Susan Lieu Avenges Her Mother’s
Death by Keeping Her Story Alive,” February 16, 2019.

The Press Democrat, “Santa Rosa native Susan Lieu recounts her mother’s death in San Francisco solo show,” May 15, 2019.

The San Francisco Chronicle, “Tell me a story: Two tales of parents and their children,” May 14, 2019.

Seattle Weekly, “Susan Lieu Feels The Weight of Death and Beauty,” February 6, 2019.

The Seattle Globalist, “Susan Lieu traces the path from vengeance to understanding in “140 LBS,” February
11, 2019.

The Seattle Times, “Look Ahead: The hottest Seattle events for February 2019,” January 25, 2019. 

The Spectator, “Body, Beauty, Death: Susan Lieu’s Journey Through Grief,” February 20, 2019.

The Stranger, “Recommended Event at Bumbershoot,” August 2018.

The Stranger, “Recommended Event,” February 2019.

Later Event: December 7
The 2019 Mt. Rainier Craft Fair