Delicious bites of dim sum served with exciting tastes of East Asian theatre in Deptford (From News Shopper)
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Delicious bites of dim sum served with exciting tastes of East Asian theatre in Deptford
Treading the boards is often compared to prostitution in East Asia, with most parents pushing for their children to become doctors or lawyers.
But one passionate theatre company is battling to turn this old-fashioned view on its head with top quality performances and writing from talented British East Asian thespians.
Now, Yellow Earth is coming to The Albany in Deptford to combine delicious Chinese food with five separate short and original plays in a new, tasty take on theatre.
Audiences will be able to treat themselves to delectable bite-sized dim sum morsels, served with an exciting mixture of stories, all based in a Chinese restaurant.
Kumiko Mendl, director and one of the founding members of Yellow Earth, told Vibe: “Last year we ran a pilot and the idea was really to generate new writing and make new work.
“We asked for proposals of short 10 minute pieces that would take place in a Chinese restaurant and the only set they could use was one table and two chairs.
“We got lots of submissions and they were very successful, so this year we are taking them on tour – especially in areas with China towns.”
Unable to find a suitable restaurant for the show to take place in Deptford, Yellow Theatre will perform Dim Sum Nights in The Albany’s cafe space, which has its own stage.
Kumiko added: “There will be little bites of dim sum, like prawn crackers and chicken feet, and little bites of theatre – it’s a different way of presenting new work.
“Dim sum apparently means ‘touch the heart’, and that’s what we hope to do.
“Audiences are always looking for new experiences.”
With a waitress ready to MC the night’s events, a varied menu of plays is set to take people on a culinary adventure through East Asia.
“They are all very different stories.” Kumiko said.
“One is about a boy who tries to chat up a girl at the end of a party, and one is quite a serious piece about a couple who have escaped the famine in China in the late 1950s and come to China town.”
From an unlikely friendship made at a wedding banquet, to a family dinner party consumed with love, guilt and hunger, and from a troubled man entering a quiet restaurant to a butterfly yearning for love, Yellow Earth’s wide range of choices provides something to suit all tastes.
But a life in theatre and the arts has always been a tough one to chase for actors from East Asian descent.
Kumiko said: “This is celebratory of British East Asians in this country – we’re trying to encourage more to perform and get involved in the arts.
“Parents, especially in Japan, do not see drama or acting as a stable life.
“The arts are not respected and in some ways it’s still linked to a type of prostitution.
“You would rather say your daughter is a doctor rather than an actress – even if she were a successful TV star.
“It’s not given the same weight and it’s very much looked down on but things are changing now, new generations of people are thinking slightly differently.”
Yellow Earth also runs programmes to encourage and showcase emerging British East Asian actors, writers and directors.
Kumiko has performed in many of their productions and steered the company’s education work before becoming Artistic Director last year.
She added: “One guy I know came here to study law and promised his parents he wouldn’t do any drama but he’s been doing bits of theatre on the side and he’s so good.
“There is a large Vietnamese community near The Albany, one of our writers Thanh Ledang lives in Deptford.
“I hope people come and see us and realise ‘I could do that, or have a go’.”
Dim Sum Nights runs at The Albany on November 2 and November 3 at 7.30pm.
For tickets visit thealbany.org.uk or call 0208 6924446.