PRESS RELEASE: MRT Debuts First Cambodian-Authored Play in 15 Years With KNYUM

DATE: December 18, 2017
PR CONTACT: Taryn Kimel,
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7595
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678


Vichet Chum brings his brand new, gorgeously poetic play to Lowell
January 10 – February 4, 2018

Lowell, MA – Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) starts off 2018 with the latest in its 39th season: the world premiere production of Vichet Chum’s KNYUM.

Vichet Chum will make both his playwrighting and acting debut at MRT with his brand new, one-man play following the story of Guy, a hotel night clerk who spends the quiet hours of the night shift studying Khmer, the language of his family’s home of Cambodia, in preparation for his first visit to the country his parents fled from decades before. Guy stumbles awkwardly towards fluency to awaken to parts of his heritage, both beautiful and excruciating, which shine through in his wildly luminous dreams.

Chum, who has been working on KNYUM since he was a graduate student at Brown University/Trinity Rep (Class of 2011), said, "I'm so excited to see KNYUM evolve into a fully realized, three dimensional, living, breathing thing. When you're writing, you never know what it will become, but you hope and you work and put your heart fully into it, hoping that you get the chance to share it with people. I'm so grateful to MRT and the lovely people of Lowell for inviting me into this community to share my story. It's a dream."

Lowell is home to the second-largest Cambodian community in the United States, and it has been Artistic Director Sean Daniels’ mission to produce a Cambodian-written play at MRT since his arrival in 2015. “Once I knew I was coming to Lowell, I knew part of what would make us relevant enough to still be around in 20 years, is that we needed to more accurately reflect the community we lived in,” Daniels said. “Lowell is a diverse city, an immigrant city, and home to one of the largest Cambodian populations in the country – none of which was being reflected in our programming. I asked around ‘who is everyone’s favorite Cambodian playwright’ and was surprised that it took a year of looking before someone introduced me to Vichet. I got to follow the progress of this piece as he continued to craft this truly gorgeous, bold, lyrical show. I couldn’t be prouder than for MRT to start the journey to reflecting our community on stage.”

Director KJ Sanchez, head of the M.F.A. in Directing program at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “I have been a huge fan of Sean Daniels for many years and am honored and thrilled to be working at MRT, and Vichet Chum is one of the most lyric, funny, charming writers/performers I’ve come across in a long time. KNYUM offers something for all of us – it is a meditation on how we all manage our parent’s expectations, as well as a love story to the Cambodian people – and every time I read this beautiful play I find a new treasure.”

The approximately 90-minute show will be performed without an intermission. Performances are January 10-February 4, 2018. Press performances are at 8:00 PM on Saturday, Jauary 13 (Opening Night) and 2:00 PM on Sunday, January 14. All performances will be held at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre located at 50 East Merrimack Street in historic downtown Lowell. Tickets range from $26 - $73 and are on sale now at or by calling 978-654-4678.

More information is at

Creative Team and Cast

The play is performed entirely by playwright Vichet Chum. Chum is a Cambodian-American actor, writer, director, and theater maker, originally from Dallas, Texas and now living in New York City. Regionally, he's worked at Trinity Repertory Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie Theater, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, the Huntington Theatre Company, Everyman Theatre, and New Harmony Theatre. In NYC, he's worked at the Cherry Lane Theater, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, Project Y Theatre, Woodshed Collective, Slant Theatre Project and the Incubator Arts Project. His plays have been workshopped at Second Generation Productions, Weston Playhouse, Cleveland Public Theatre, All For One Theater and Amios. He's also a co-founder and resident member of the arts company The Group Lab ( He is a proud graduate of the University of Evansville (BFA) and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company (MFA).

The creative team headed by Director KJ Sanchez includes Dan Conway (Sets), Szu-Feng Chen (Costumes), Brian J. Lilienthal (Lighting), David Remedios (Sound), and Jon Haas (Projection).


Tickets range from $26 - $73 and are available at or by calling 978-654-4678. A senior discount is offered for 10% off adult ticket prices. Student tickets are $15. Group discounts are available for groups of six or more by calling 978-654-7561.

Special Events

$5 NIGHT: January 10, 7:30 PM Patrons may purchase tickets for $5, cash only, at the Box Office between 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm. Limit 2 tickets per person.
WINE DOWN FRIDAY: January 12, 8:00 PM Enjoy a complimentary glass of wine with the cast and crew in the lobby following the 8:00 pm performance, as well as with the Western Avenue Studios Artists Association members whose work is currently on exhibit in the lobby.
LOWELL NIGHT: January 17, 7:30 PM Lowell residents may purchase tickets for $10, cash only, at the box office from 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm. Proper ID required, limit 2 per person.
ASK THE ARTISTS POST-SHOW DISCUSSION: January 11 and 25 Post-Show Discussions will provide an opportunity for the audience to hear directly from the actors and other artists who created the show.
COOKIE MATINEE: January 17, 2:00 PM Enjoy complimentary fresh-baked cookies and coffee from Brew’d Awakening in the lobby prior to the matinee performance.
FREE CHILD CARE: January 20, 4:00 PM MRT will offer Free Child Care provided by licensed professionals from Acre Family Child Care at the 4:00 PM January 20 performance. (Reservations required, visit for more information.)
EDUCATOR DISCOUNT DAY: January 20, 4:00 PM and MILITARY DISCOUNT DAY: January 20, 4:00 PM MRT will also offer Educator and Military Discounts of 50% off tickets to the December 9, 4:00 PM performance using the discount codes ED50 and MIL50. (Please show ID when picking up tickets.)


KNYUM has received support from Farley White Interests, the production sponsor, and Howl Magazine, the media sponsor. Community outreach for KNYUM is funded in part by the Lowell Cultural Council.

MRT’s 2017-18 Season Sponsor is Circle Health. The Cohort Club ( is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

About MRT

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979 and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Sean Daniels and Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas, MRT produces vibrant, contemporary plays that explore what it means to be alive today. A seven-show season runs from September through May in the intimate 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theatres nationwide (one of three in Massachusetts) with membership in LORT (the League of Resident Theatres).

MRT 2017-18 Season

The Royale by Marco Ramirez, Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
September 13 – October 8, 2017

Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson, Directed by Sean Daniels
October 18 – November 12, 2017

A Christmas Carol Adapted by Tony Brown, Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
November 29 – December 24, 2017

KNYUM, Created and performed by Vichet Chum, Directed by KJ Sanchez
January 10 – February 4, 2018

Lost Laughs: The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle by Andy Bayiates and Aaron Muñoz, Directed by Nathan Keepers
February 14 – March 11, 2018

Little Orphan Danny Originally Conceived by Dan Finnerty; Created by Sean Daniels and Dan Finnerty; Book, Music, and Lyrics by Dan Finnerty; Additional Music by Dan Lipton; Directed by Sean Daniels
March 21 – April 15, 2018

The Villains’ Supper Club by Lila Rose Kaplan, Directed by Sean Daniels
April 25 – May 20, 2018

Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre 
(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678

Image Download

(Headshots available now, PR photos available December 29, production photos available January 10.)

1. Visit the KNYUM Photo Collection of Flickr (
2. Select a photo from the Photo Stream or the Albums
3. Click on the thumbnail and let the image load in your browser on the Flickr site.
4. Click the download button and select “View All Sizes.”
5. Select the size you wish to download from the choices listed across the top of the image.
6. Click the "Download the ___ size of this photo..." link at the top. The image will download to your computer.