Meanwhile, as Ma May reaps the rewards of her lifetime of achievements, she receives a call from her estranged brother Koh Johnnie imploring her to return to the family home and visit their ailing father. Ma May is pulled into the tumultuous memories of her father’s rise to military Commander, and the devastating events that propelled her to renounce him in her youth. Throwing her support behind Ma May’s organization, Annabel becomes attracted to Ma May and begins to question her happiness in her marriage to Daniel. The women’s friendship deepens, and the two become lovers. Emma, digging deeper, discovers the affair—a criminal offense under the repressive regime—and realizes the danger that her knowledge could create.
But when a wave of violence breaks out in Muslim-dominated Rakhine State and the people of Burma—including Emma’s activist colleagues—openly condone mass atrocities and the displacement of thousands, Emma realizes that this country is not the success story it’s been made out to be. Digging deeper, Emma discovers details about Ma May’s past that could destroy her reputation. On top of all this, as she watches America grow increasingly fractured and violent, Emma wonders whether she can ever go home again.
As the crisis in Rakhine escalates and polarization between the aid workers and the people of Burma grows, Emma and her activist colleagues must each decide where their allegiances lie. At the same time, caught between her destructive love affair with a country in chaos and the responsibility to report the truth, Emma must decide what she is willing to stand for, and at what cost.
FOREIGN is the second work in award-winning composer-playwright Erin Kamler’s MONSOON TRILOGY, a series of musicals about human rights issues in Southeast Asia.