There are many plays about being Chinese in Britain. Yet there was something about “Ghost Girl, Gwei Mui 鬼妹” that struck a chord with me, once a Cantonese girl transplanted from Guangzhou to London half way through her upbringing. Perhaps it was the title, the idea of being a living ghost – the invisible minority, or the daring reverse use of Gwei Mui, the Cantonese insult for foreigners, that prompted me to accept the offer to review this play.
Posted in Blog and tagged adoptee, Britain, British Chinese, china, Chinese, Chinese Arts Now, culture, immigration, Jennifer Tang, minority, racism, review, theatre
Chinese New Year is becoming one of few times of the year when the world takes an interest in Chinese culture. Whilst I have always considered this a good starting point, there is so much more to China beyond Spring Festival. Like all live cultures, Chinese culture is developing organically every second, having sprouted thick branches across different regions within China, and new branches in different communities around the world. Over the last decade or so, China is increasingly featuring in not just current affairs, but in the arts around the UK. Media that present an overview of these events from different parts of the country, through the year, is much harder to come by. So this year, I have curated my own selection, not only for China-enthusiasts, but for anyone who is interested, curious, or just fancies a little different. I hope you will find it useful.
Posted in Blog and tagged 2019, arts, books, china, Chinese, culture, film, food, games, theatre, UK
The largely forgotten history of the Chinese Labour Corps, the 140,000 Chinese men who travelled from the other side of the world to the battlefields of Europe, to carry out supplies and repair work, in aid of the Allies during the First World War, has recently resurfaced in the media and public attention. Few would be better suited as a scriptwriter to a play dedicated to the CLC than Daniel York Loh (“Fu Manchu Complex”, “The Good Immigrant”), who has, among many things, become a leading figure in Britain in raising awareness of and fighting against entrenched racism and discrimination against East Asians.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese Labour Corps, culture, Europe, history, theatre, WWI
The Ming writer Tang Xianzu (1550-1616) is regarded as one of China’s greatest playwrights. Born in Jiangxi into a scholar’s family, Tang exhibited literary talent from the very tender age of five. He lived in a time of government corruption, instability at the Court, when borders north and south crumbled under threat of attack from neighbouring tribes. Despite his prodigious learning, Tang encountered multiple setbacks in the Jinshi exams, and declined requests by numerous official that amounted to aiding in cheating. In 1591, he presented a memorandum to the emperor criticizing the idol conduct of servants of the Court, thus offending its key members. Banished to minor posts in poor, remote southernmost regions, he nevertheless worked with dedication and compassion, allowing prison inmates to visit their families during Spring Festival, and attend Lantern Festival celebrations.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, drama, Kunqu, literature, music, opera, play, review, Tang Xianzu, theatre
I first heard of Red Dragonfly Production last year when they toured the UK with “Autumn of Han”. I was delighted to find a theatre company bringing dramatisations of Chinese stories to the stage. Unfortunately busy schedules meant I missed the show, so it was with great anticipation that I attended the press night for their new play, “DiaoChan: the Rise of the Courtesan”.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese culture, courtesan, Diao Chan, Red Dragonfly Productions, review, theatre, Three Kingdoms
This week is Spring Festival 2015. In London’s Chinatown, festive lanterns shine over frantic shoppers rushing about to prepare for the biggest annual feast and celebration, there will be lion dances in Gerrard Street and music performances in Trafalgar Square. Is the thought of pushing through the crowds again making your head spin? Are you an adventurous Sinophile wandering what else there is beyond the bounds of Soho? Here are some things you can enjoy in London outside Chinatown.
Posted in Blog and tagged Aardman, animation, Chang Er, china, Chinatown Artspace, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Chinese opera, Cinderella, film, flower market, jade rabbit, moon landing, music, Polka Theatre, puppetry, Rich Mix, Shanghai Animation Studios, Shaun the Sheep, Shikumen, Spring Festival, stop motion, theatre, Year of the Sheep, Yeh Shen, Yellow Earth Theatre
There are some stories which just spring up time and time again, from culture to culture. Certain fears and hopes in the human Psyche that show we’re all basically the same. “Yeh Shen” is one of these, or maybe it’s several, as the Yellow Earth Theatre draws many comparisons in their publicity, and even in the play’s opening scenes, to Cinderella, and proudly announcing that this Chinese fairy tale is the oldest recorded version of the story.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Cinderella, dance, fairy tale, pantomime, play, puppetry, Spring Festival, theatre, Yellow Earth
After Yellow Earth’s fantastic Dimsum Nights, I have been following the troupe’s movements, and when I saw that their new production, charting London’s original China Town, would be performed at the old Limehouse Town Hall, I practically leapt for a ticket. Directed by Gary Merry, and Yellow Earth’s overall artistic director, Kumiko Mendl, I’m very glad I did.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinatown, Chinese, conservation, culture, demolition, heritage, Last Days of Limehouse, Limehouse, london, progress, promenade, theatre, Yellow Earth
This is the remainder of my October theatre articles, which I had edited together into a fuller article at the end of December. Whilst that was considered a look back at 2013, I decided that I would complete the editing, and upload this final part before the year of the Snake was through.
Posted in Blog and tagged 2013, china, China Town, Chinese, culture, dim sum, london, Madame Butterfly, theatre
This October has been an extremely good month for Sinophiles in London, with so many China-related events in museums, theatres, conferences as well as TV and the radio. I have actually overexerted myself a little over this month, attending so many events, filling notebooks with article plans and talk outlines, that I gave myself no time to actually write and upload anything, so consider this article a guide to the highlights, and pitfalls, of Chinese culture through the Western lense.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, Edwardian, Fu Manchu, london, racism, theatre, women