WEST meets east in a play about two Kiwi sisters growing up in Shanghai.
Writer Nicole Steven, 24, of Pt Chevalier has loosely based her first full-length play Squirrel on the experiences she had living in China as a child.
The Stevens family spent several years living in Beijing for her father’s work when she was a toddler. Then they returned for six months when she was 10.
‘‘I realised at that age that we are Westerners. We’re rich and we have different rules to a lot of the Chinese. For instance the one-child policy.’’
Life in the expat community was quite segregated, she says.
‘‘It was normal for wealthy Chinese to spend time with Westerners but for poorer people, or ones living in the countryside, Westerners were a rare thing for them to come across.’’
In some ways it was an emotional rollercoaster of an experience.
‘‘The culture clash between New Zealand and a country like China is massive. One minute you see something that’s beautiful and fantastic and then you can turn around the corner and see something that goes completely against your own morals. Chinese coming to New Zealand are also on a similar rollercoaster because all of a sudden they’re in a completely new environment with a new language, rules and behaviours.
‘‘My character dislikes the amount of people and indus- try and she misses nature. The other character enjoys the city and the chaos.’’
Mt Albert resident Alice Pearce plays Steven’s sister.
‘‘The characters are confused about some of the things in the culture because they’re not fully immersed,’’ the 24-year-old says.
‘‘It’s quite nice seeing Westerners having to deal with culture clash. The Chinese are the norm and we’re the outsiders.’’
Steven is proud to have enlisted an all-female cast and crew.
‘‘You see a lot of male roles and it’s nice to have female roles that actually go on a journey as opposed to being defined only by the male role.’’
Squirrel is part of the 2015 Auckland Fringe Festival. It’s on at the Basement Theatre from February 28 till March 1. Tickets are $15–$18 from iticket.co.nz.
Child's perspective: Alice Pearce and Nicole Steven star in the play Squirrel.