Yellow Earth Theatre (YET) and Chinese Arts Now (CAN) today announce the winners of their inaugural Digital Commission. The commission was offered to artists who identify as having Chinese cultural heritage and/or who make work that incorporates contemporary Chinese perspectives. It was decided that two commissions would be awarded, with Pamela Carter and Tobi Poster-Su both winning a £4000 commission to mount their work digitally as part of CAN Festival 2021, a festival that explores Chinese themes, stories and art forms. This commission was launched in response to the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak and as a result their work will be shared digitally via online platforms and audiences will be able to watch, listen and participate remotely.
Pamela Carter’s commission with the working title of Monologue is a visual journey into a woman’s life, which takes the audience on an impossible story spanning time and real historical events. It is a piece about heredity, hybridity, historiography and representing ‘mixed-race’, touching on the subjects of war, cultural identity, gender, and colonialism.
Carter today said, “Whilst the ideas for Monologue have been with me for a couple of years, it wasn’t until I saw the call-out for the Digital Theatre Commission that I understood how I might realise and communicate them in a piece of public work. As an artist, I feel very lucky for this opportunity to explore professionally a medium new to me, and to be making work supported by Yellow Earth Theatre and Chinese Arts Now at this incredibly difficult time.”
Pamela Carter is a playwright and dramaturg. Her previous theatre credits include Fast Ganz Nah (Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and Skåne (Hampstead Theatre).
Tobi Poster Su’s commission, Chang and Eng and Me (and Me), is a digital theatre performance incorporating puppetry and split-screen to tell the story of Chang and Eng Bunker, Thai conjoined twins of Chinese descent who immigrated to the US and over the course of their lifetimes were both servants and slave owners. Weaved in with reflections of Poster-Su’s own life, Chang and Eng and Me (and Me) explores the ideas of identity and privilege.
Poster-Su today said, “For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the story of Chang and Eng Bunker, who started out performing acrobatics in stereotypical Chinese dress and ended up dressing and speaking as refined Southern American gentlemen. As a mixed-race and fairly assimilated product of the Chinese diaspora, with the complex intersections of marginalisation and privilege this entails, I’m struck by how familiar many of the tensions of their story feel. I’m delighted to be working with Chinese Arts Now and Yellow Earth Theatre, as well as director Tanuja Amarasuriya, to begin developing a multi-platform work exploring the lives of Chang and Eng, and my own relationship to their unusual story.”
Tobi Poster-Su is a writer, performer and puppeteer. His credits as a puppetry director include A Christmas Carol (Bristol Old Vic) and Heidi: A Goat’s Tale (the egg theatre). He is Co-Artistic Director of Wattle and Daub, with whom he co-created and performed in The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak (Wilton’s Music Hall) and Triptych Tobacco Factory Theatres).
An-Ting Chang, Artistic Director of Chinese Arts Now, and Kumiko Mendl, Artistic Director of Yellow Earth Theatre add, “The range and quality of proposals we received was so impressive and it was not an easy task to select. We’re thrilled that CAN and Yellow Earth unanimously reached a decision to offer not one but two commissions to two exceptional artists and deliver this innovative work to the public and the community we serve digitally. The proposals have really excited us with their very personal responses as British East Asians to the complex and unprecedented situation we find ourselves in today.”