Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stories East and West

Performance 4a and Company B Belvoir present STORIES EAST & WEST AT Upstairs Belvoir.

This was a one night only event. Who is Performance 4a? “Performance 4a is a non-profit organisation established in 2002, seeking to engage artists and audiences alike in the discussion about how Asia and Australia are linked in contemporary life. We do this through performances, workshops, and via our website, home of the Asian-Australian Performance Directory.” This showing comes from a storytelling workshop conducted by William Yang for 4a in 2009.

Six storytellers all from Asian backgrounds told us, in two parts, stories from their lives, of their lives, accompanied with slides of family personas and events. This was not necessarily a cosy, 'don’t we feel good', or angry or whatever evening, and it was no comfortable ‘love-in’… No, the work presented were authentically heartfelt expressions of the life journeys of these East/West citizens. The unique cultural histories and customs of the ‘East’ and the way they have impacted on their lives and consequent behaviours, the graphic and emotionally honest revelations about the difficulties and triumphs of working through the obstacles of living in the ‘West’ as a vibrant part of contemporary Australia as Asians were told with the bright power of truth throwing a light of helpful exposure, to bring comprehension and, sometimes a state of wonder, to the mostly western listeners, sometimes painfully revealed, but beautifully and modestly offered and cumulatively was truly revelatory and life enhancing.

All six of the participants; Daphne Lowe Kelley, Joy Hopwood, Paul Codeiro, Mary Tang (through a video taping), Mai Long and Teik-Kim Pok all had the expected story as well as the confronting unexpected revelations. Both cultural charm and pain. The depth of the prepared exposures in the story telling were breathtaking in their courage and is what made the night extraordinary. Much credit to the performers and the guidance of William Yang. Annette Shun Wah also participated as a Director.

Belvoir St Theatre, through Brenna Hobson, co-presented this unique experience and should be congratulated for their vision and accommodation. As Annette Shun Wah gratefully acknowledged “This is what a full house feels like.” Indeed there was a waiting list for cancellations to witness this event.

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