Yīngguó sets out to discuss the effects the displacement of a young child from one culture to another, some of the effects of being of mixed heritage, and the role memory plays in our lives. It is primarily a piece of autobiographical theatre, the subject being close to my heart as a child of Hong Kong during its decolonization. Yīngguó itself is the Pinyin of the Cantonese 英國, meaning “England/the UK”.
I found a lot of inspiration in Veronica Needer, a Hong Kong artist, and her work about her own ethnicity and identity- and as someone who has similar experiences, but also a very different experience, being from a different generation. I felt that it was very interesting to explore a different viewpoint of what it can mean to be mixed race and from Hong Kong.
When putting Yīngguó together, I thought back to the coatstand/hatstand technique of making a list of what I wanted to say, and what I could do, and I built up the elements of my performance around those- utilizing my singing capabilities, as well as more childish skills such as skipping.
I utilize what’s called a “Buddah Board” during my performance- it is a small board on which you draw with water and it appears like paint, until it dries and the image fades- I found this to be a fairly fitting metaphor within the piece for the way memory works, it can be bold at the start, but will eventually fade, and if you want to keep it intact you need to fill in the gaps- but it’s never exactly as it was before. I also borrowed from the Wizard of Oz; my red shoes representing the ruby slippers, and the iconic “there’s no place like home”- using these recognizable elements to show the audience my own feelings about home.
this was such a great performance! I was enthralled by the different characters and how they transitioned into one another. The range of different women/girls portrayed was wonderful, and I found myself finding something which each of them to identify with.
One could be hilarious (Barbara, the swimmer, certainly had me amused) and another could make the hairs on my neck stand up (I had a moment or two with Michelle, the soldier, speaking about sexual assault in the military and their vigilante justice)
Today’s dress rehearsal went fairly well, I think. I’ve decided not to use the ball, as I did before, and to instead focus on making the skipping element stronger.
One of the notes I received was to do something else with the jump rope after the first section, and to keep the performance very specific. I want to make the jump rope section and the final section more physical to contrast with the stillness of the middle section.
In considering how to make the three sections of my piece work well in contrast with each other, movement-wise, I took a trip to Hamley’s and bought myself some cheap toys from the pocket money section. A jump rope, a tinny microphone, and a bouncy ball that lights up on impact.
It’s going to be fun seeing how I can incorporate one or two of these!
I’ve been thinking about the Wizard of Oz, and the iconic symbols associated with it. The shoes. Those red shoes that the film made so iconic- Dorothy clicks her heels three times, closes her eyes and declares “there’s no place like home”. three times. three clicks. three sections to my piece.
I was considering wearing my taps for a while, but ultimately decided against it- I’m opting for red shoes- though they make less noise- they have stronger symbolic resonance, I think.
We workshopped a little today- I still struggled for a long time about how to frame my piece, but I found myself singing a range of showtunes, as I sometimes to think- and I considered the Wizard of Oz. Not only is it ingrained in my memory as my first real memory of my Grandfather (he played the cowardly lion in a production when I was around 7 or 8), but it also links in strongly with finding a home. By the time I came to this realization it was about time to leave, but it is certainly something I’m going to think on.
The afternoon session we were led by Tammy Meneghini, and it was very physical- which I love- getting into my body is one of my favorite things to do, and I find myself trying to find ways to do this more and more often.
We told our pieces, in pieces, through different parts of our body- which really made me think about where the driving forces of my piece and my feelings were.
Today we showed what we have so far and it was good to see what did and didn’t work in front of an audience.
The Buddah Board that I used seemed to go over fairly well, and I know to pay closer attention to the way I’m holding my body. I’m still struggling a little with how to properly frame my piece- I’m not entirely certain- or how I can change it up a little, and incorporate movement and/or song.