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Understanging the World of the Play

How Language Divides and Unites


Dau is a DJ on the local radio station whose audience is Vietnamese Americans. As someone in their 70s, he has a much different perspective on the power of radio. Let’s explore what this invention did to revolutionize how we communicate.

How has the radio affected the world you live in today? Discover these 5 times radio changed the world.


This play bounces between four languages: English, Vietnamese, American Sign Language, and Vietnamese Sign Language. The three characters must figure out the best way to communicate with each other as their world shifts. Click here to discover how many languages are in the world today and which are the most used.

Check your Understanding:

How many known languages are spoken in the world? 

Classroom Activity

What's the difference between language and communication? Play the Language Game! Click here to help students think about what what goes into making a language, what words really are, and if there are differences between language and communication.

Vietnam War

In The World is Not Silent, Dau and his family are forced to evacuate Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. After defeating French colonial rule in 1954, Vietnam was left divided - communist in the North and anticommunist in the South. By 1960, the Viet Cong was created - a group of Southern revolutionaries backed by the Vietnamese Communist Party. Opposing their communism, Americans fought the North Vietnamese army in 1965, while North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops launched surprise attacks throughout South Vietnam in 1968.

Dau and his family fled Vietnam during this time, and settled in the USA. What adjustments do you think the family had to make?



The character Don is an amateur astrophotographer - just like the playwright that the character is based on. 

Why do you think it was important for the playwright, Don, to include his astrophotography in the story? What purpose does it serve in the play?

Learn more about Don's journey with astronomy and this play on Alley Theatre's blog. 

Did you know...

We see the light of stars for a long time after they've actually died.

The Pillars of Creation that Don is referring to are estimated to have been destroyed around 6,000 years ago!

The universe is always moving, so the camera for astrophotography has to as well. Click here to learn about the Pillars of Creation in the heart of the Eagle Nebula, featured in these stunning Hubble images from NASA.


When I first saw this image my jaw dropped. The sheer size of it and the fact that there’s evidence that the pillars have actually been destroyed long ago, but the light from that image won’t reach us for another thousand years. It’s enough to cause an existential crisis...which I guess could be a good thing. Don’t you think we all need a good existential crisis from time to time?

If the Earth is constantly moving, why shouldn’t I?

Check it out

Explore Don's astrophotography on his Instagram and his website.

Which photo is your favorite? What do you like about it?

YouTube Personalities and Livestreams 

What’s one of your favorite viral videos? Why? How did it go viral?

In the play, Don gets excited when his video “goes viral.” But why? Take a look at this video that breaks down some of the reasoning. 

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