I wandered into ‘Do You Speak Chinese’ with no assumptions about what I was going to experience. I knew it was a piece about identity and heritage, and I’d made some predictions about dance styles that I might witness…
What I didn’t expect was two people physically dragging themselves across the stage, double jointed-ly grasping at walls and skirting with their heads almost completely folded out of view.
The shocking start contrasted with the rest of the performance completely. Victoria Chiu and Kristina Chan moved with synchronicity that was beautiful to witness, yet they seemed to be telling their own stories through the movements. Instruments, voices and paper were complementary elements; paper playing its own role through the show.
The audio track of someone slowly trying to annunciate phrases in Mandarin reinforced the title of the performance. When it shifted to a mishmash of racist comments that are commonplace from the mouths of politicians and opinion leaders it was a small insight into just how affecting these comments are to people like Chiu who don’t necessarily identify as ‘Chinese’ more than ‘Australian’.
Every element of the performance was done skilfully, particularly the finale. This is titled as ‘Chapter One: Body/Language’. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings to the stage.
Jasmin Ashton is a PR student and designer from Melbourne who has a lot of feelings about pretty much everything and a need to share them.
‘Do You Speak Chinese‘ – Malthouse Theatre