Show calls for 100 Chi­nese per­form­ers

Central Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MANDY TE

An Auck­land the­atre duo are call­ing on 100 Chi­nese peo­ple to share their sto­ries on stage.

Di­rected by Alice Can­ton, OTHER [chi­nese] is a per­for­mance about cre­at­ing mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tives around Chi­nese-New Zealand iden­tity. It is also about chal­leng­ing the sin­gu­lar nar­ra­tive of the ‘Chi­nese com­mu­nity’ of­ten heard in main­stream di­a­logue.

The per­for­mance will have a core cast of 20 and an en­sem­ble of up to 100 peo­ple.

Pro­ducer Julie Zhu said the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in New Zealand was heav­ily charged due to a hous­ing cri­sis largely blamed on im­mi­grants, par­tic­u­larly Chi­nese im­mi­grants.

When peo­ple were used as scape­goats they be­came de­hu­man­ised, Zhu said.

Can­ton and Zhu have been hold­ing work­shops with ac­tors and non-ac­tors from dif­fer­ent Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ties in Auck­land.

At the work­shops, peo­ple have been telling their sto­ries, get­ting to know each other, de­vel­op­ing their stage skills and shar­ing food.

Zhu said it was great to see peo­ple of all ages get­ting in­volved in the show.

‘‘They’re not act­ing. They’re per­form­ing their ac­tual sto­ries,’’ Zhu said.

Can­ton said the­atre had al­ways been a way for her to try and solve is­sues.

In the ti­tle, the word ‘‘Chi­nese’’ was writ­ten in low­er­case be­cause Can­ton liked the way it was in­ter­preted when not used as a proper noun.

The per­for­mance was about pro­mot­ing di­ver­sity within the Chi­nese-New Zealand iden­tity, Can­ton said.

‘‘As a Chi­nese-New Zealan­der, I feel like my story is dif­fer­ent to what might be per­ceived as an au­then­tic Chi­nese-New Zealan­der story which re­volves around the idea of mi­gra­tion, dis­place­ment and as­sim­i­la­tion,’’ Can­ton said.

‘‘If I don’t fit in with that nar­ra­tive, then I’m in­vis­i­ble from that nar­ra­tive but I’m also aware that it’s an im­por­tant nar­ra­tive which needs to be shared.’’

Com­mu­nity en­gage­ment li­ai­son Coco Cui, 27, got in­volved with OTHER [chi­nese] be­cause she wanted to ex­plore her cul­ture and meet new peo­ple.

‘‘Although we’re all Chi­nese, our think­ing and liv­ing habits are quite dif­fer­ent,’’ Cui said.

OTHER [chi­nese] will be per­formed at Q The­atre from Septem­ber 7 to Septem­ber 16.

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