Show calls for 100 Chinese performers
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.