British East Asian Theatre: “I’m not a graceful lotus flower.”

One of my pet hates is when books/plays written by BAME writers are perceived or labelled as culturally ‘niche’. Why do people say that? It’s a way of othering and distancing works by writers of colour for being ‘different’. It’s alienating for BAME writers and readers/audience members when it’s difficult for minority writers to get a platform and challenge the status quo in the first place. I think that it’s necessary to deconstruct this idea that we are ‘niche’, and with that in mind, here are two products of the British East Asian theatrical community which I have really enjoyed reading recently. Foreign Goods really got me thinking: why is this the first British East Asian collection of theatrical writing? Because it’s SO good. I hope that there’s another! Continue reading “British East Asian Theatre: “I’m not a graceful lotus flower.””

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Reasons to be Graeae on a Sunny Day in May

I first encountered the theatre company Graeae when they came to talk to the KCL Cultural Institute last Autumn, so I was extremely excited to receive this beautiful copy in the post, very kindly sent to me by Oberon Books. We’ve had gorgeously warm weather recently, and I have loved soaking up the Graeae rays in the sunshine.

Graeae is a force for change in world-class theatre, boldly placing D/deaf and disabled actors centre stage and challenging preconceptions.

(Source)

Reasons to be Graeae is a collection of stories which track the history of the company (established in 1980) as well as offering insight into what makes them tick. It’s a tribute to the fact that their passion for diversity, access, and representation has been hugely influential to the theatre industry. The company’s unusual name has a memorable story behind it – pronounced ‘grey-eye’, it is from the Ancient Greek myth of the three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth between them. As a result, they are extra entrepreneurial and clever. They’re said to have inspired Shakespeare’s three witches of Macbeth, so it has theatrical roots, too!

I’ve always been interested in dramaturgy and I knew that I was going to really enjoy Reasons to be Graeae because I had already heard about how cool they are as a company, but I was not prepared for how moved I would be by this fascinating and dense collection of stories. Warning: this is not dry, boringly academic dramaturgy. This is stuff that will make you feel teary on the tube and laugh in the library. It was a real joy to read. Continue readingReasons to be Graeae on a Sunny Day in May”

I Wish I Had Seen Wendy Kweh Play Calpurnia When I Was a Kid

I was a member of the ‘mob’ audience of Nicholas Hytner’s stunning production of Julius Caesar (2018) at the Bridge Theatre, and aside from being completely blown away by the production itself and the incredible level of talent from Ben Whishaw, Michelle Farly, and the whole cast, there was one person whom I found so personally inspiring.

When Wendy Kweh graced the stage in all her elegance, I paused for breath. In that space, seeing an incredibly talented actor of Asian ethnicity onstage as a distraught Calpurnia, a realisation hit me like a wave: in all my years of growing up and going to the theatre, as far as I can recall, I had never seen an Asian actor in a professional Shakespeare play in the UK before. Moreover, I had not even realised this fact until I saw Kweh onstage, standing in front of me. I had subconsciously accepted that it did not happen – even to the extent that I had not consciously thought about it at all. Continue reading “I Wish I Had Seen Wendy Kweh Play Calpurnia When I Was a Kid”

Winter in Oxford

Hello! December is already upon us (brrrr it’s chilly) and some time has passed since our last blog post. Oxford has just finished its Michaelmas Term (a.k.a. Winter semester) and it has gone by in a blur. Eight intense weeks of essays, essays, and essays. In fact, here is a haiku inspired by the past two months:

Michaelmas Term

Wearied winter fun –
All the bits in between those
Sixteen thousand words

Continue reading “Winter in Oxford”