OTHER [chinese] is a live, documentary theatre show.
The purpose of the show is to create a space for multiple voices to arise – because being Chinese is not one, singular thing.
This large-scale community engagement project invites interested participants from a variety of backgrounds to investigate the complexity of Chinese identity in contemporary New Zealand, examining the everyday lives, rituals, historical events, and memories of Chinese in Aotearoa.
Volunteers participate in a series of weekly workshops, creating opportunities to connect with people from a range of ages, genders, political leanings, education and locations who are interested in what it is to be Chinese in their community, here and now.
Audiences experienced the realisation of these stories and conversations in OTHER [chinese] where up to 100 people are invited to participate in the show, as themselves. Not characters of fiction, but real life people.
In 2017, White_mess hosted a series of free public workshops in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) to investigate the complexity of Chinese identity in Aotearoa, New Zealand. People came from a range of ages, genders, education, and social backgrounds, to which we asked:
“What is Chinese? What is being Chinese? What is not Chinese?”
Following these open workshops, participants were invited to continue this inquiry into a 6 week part-time intensive. This included mothers, teachers, students, social workers, retired grandparents, and many, many personalities. Over this time the group generated content from their collective experiences, covering ideas around identity including language, family and belonging.
This content was crafted into the live documentary, OTHER [chinese], which ran for an 8-night season at Q Theatre. The show was facilitated live by director Alice Canton every night, and included an ensemble of volunteers and non-actors who shared stories and candidly answered questions prompted by Alice’s real-time direction. In addition to this, OTHER [chinese] included interview footage of Chinese New Zealanders, capturing a full range of opinions – this created distinct, and at times conflicting ideas on Chinese-ness.
OTHER [chinese] opens up conversations in order to create meaningful change in the world, and challenges the many forms of cultural mis-representation, discrimination and invisibility that exists around Chinese identity.
Director and Creator: Alice Canton
Producer: Julie Zhu
Lighting and Production Design: Brad Gledhill and Rachel Marlow
Dramaturg: Kate Prior
Stage Manager: Natasha Hoyland
Video Content: Kelly Chen
AV Design: Jessica McCall
Sound Design: Matt Eller
Community Liaison: Coco Cui
Venue: Q Theatre, Auckland New Zealand
Dates: 6 – 16 September 2017
“Billed as a “live documentary theatre show”, OTHER [chinese] is educational, gentle and filled with off-the-cuff humour.” – NZ Herald
Best Show of 2017 – Metro Magazine
Excellence Award for Overall Production – Auckland Theatre Awards, 2017
Hackman Cup for Most Original Production – Auckland Theatre Awards, 2017
“OTHER [chinese] is something that New Zealand needs. It’s a testament to Canton’s skill as a storyteller and facilitator that the show, and its accompanying workshops, convey a strong sense of empowerment through the affirmation of personal experiences. And this is something that we have been waiting a long time to see.” – The Pantograph Punch