Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reactions from China

Roshni emails to tell me what the students had to say about the show on their return to Ningbo.

"Had an hour follow up discussion with the students. They were completely stunned by the play and said that, as I did to you, they found it difficult to know what their reactions actually were, having never experienced anything like this. We started by discussing what the play was about which was (rightly) tricky and we got a number of contradictory responses which was fruitful - play is about culture clash, play is about multiculturalism, play about culture mixing. I then asked for 5 most striking things to them as individuals and that have stayed with them since. We got some very good things, lesbianism being one. They almost all picked up on it - we were not convinced that they would. They were quite a literate audience by any standards. There was an energetic debate over the wrongs or not of Sammy selling his body. There was some good and honest reflection on the one child policy and female infanticide in China. I drew parallels to other countries, India being an obvious one. There was only a tiny bit of the-world-is-against-China paranoia. Someone suggested it was wrong and biased to represent China's past on the infanticide front but someone else said that this still happened. Big things happened in this class. Oh and someone said that lesbianism did not exist in China until foreigners introduced it. So, please send me details of the Chinese poetess so I can forward details to them. We talked openly about censorship! Someone had already leaked the answer to that last question to some of them. But the rest of them guessed or when they found out they were not suprised - ancestor worship being not even a religion and the kind of mumbo-jumbo that the Party disapproves of was the response. I pointed out that this is more than acceptable among the Chinese diasproa in Mauritius for example. And someone concluded that most Chinese do do these rites anyway in China, party line or not...

We talked about narrative techniques, non-linearity, multiple persepctives, paradox - all of which are the stuff that real and increasingly globalised life is made of.

Fascinating stuff. Several of them said that they found Linda to be an intriguing character - the packing in of a good job to be a dancer. I finished with the question of whether as English Studies students (as opposed to Business Studies which almost all parents try to coerce their children into) they were doing something similar?

I'm still gobsmacked by all this and it certainly gave me a sense of purpose and fulfilment as an academic that I would struggle to find amongst our more jaded English students."

And this is from a young Chinese audience member:

"You know, as human beings, we don’t really have the right to choose a lot of things; our gender is one of them. When we were born, we were decided to be girl or boy by the god. Usually we just accept it and go on to living as whom we are, and we maybe never thought of why we are women or men. When someone behaves in the opposite way, we just think “what’s wrong with him/her?” No one would think about the original life. And we cannot choose where to be born either.

Because of the gender and the place which we couldn’t even decide by ourselves, we living in very different ways. Someone faced to death directly, like Cuihua’s daughter. And someone who like to be a woman, but born to be a man, like Sammy. Though he is brave to change, and make money in his way, he has to burden a lot of course.

And as Alex, she is the one who cannot live with questions. She loves Song, Song loves her too, but her act of that, is escape, escape from the life, escape from “odd acting”. Maybe her parents’ marriage is a tragedy, which affects her; maybe she just wants to have the “mummy’s love”. She tried, but failed, so, to take rebirth is a better way for her, just like Velu’s feeling about his girl. She dances like a swan, and the swan lowed its head when Julian and Mary being together. Because of their acting, she came into this world, and that brings her a lot of sadness.

We should try new things, instead of ordered by other people or life. Actually, there are so many things in our life, which make us hard to change, hard to being ourselves, but that’s the real life. That’s what Linda. Maya and even Johan’s doing.

Just like this show, we couldn’t know what our life want to tell us, but we living in it.

In my opinion, this show is kind of having philosophy meaning. And I really surprised you can put those ideas into one show. The more I saw it, the more I want to re-consider my own life. That’s the interesting part for me---thinking.

One of my teachers said: yesterday is destiny, but you’re the master of your future. I like this, and it’s a good conclusion of Re-Orientations I think."

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