by Jo Holsted and Michelle Ang
Chairman Meow Productions
at The Basement Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 20 Nov 2012 to 24 Nov 2012
Reviewed by: Reynald Castaneda;
“Michelle Ang can use CHOP/STICKs. So can You.”
An original play about the inconclusive and misleading ideas of “otherness”.
Tuesday Nov 20th November – Saturday 24th November 2012
There was a time when the idea of eating sushi for lunch would be met by a grossed-out face and making a curry for dinner was only for the culinary adventurous. Nowadays, it's a fair guess that soy sauce is as much a kiwi pantry staple as Marmite, and is as mixed into our cuisine as blood is mixed in our kiwi veins. The modern New Zealand experience is an amalgamation of all the immigrant cultures that now make up our population; which is fitting because haven't we all basically come from somewhere else anyway?
As such, isn't it about time we reevaluated our ideas of identity? What does “ethnic” (*shudder) even mean and can it really be taken at face value any longer. We need a fresh (pun intended) take on how we view “Us”; New Zealanders, and “Them”; whomever that means.
CHOP/STICK presents an irreverent style of social commentary that is more a gentle prod to the consciousness as opposed to a suspenseful drama. Audiences will be taken into an experiment. We took one actress and turned her into 13 different characters. Can the audience be convinced to suspend their prejudices (and their eyes) and watch an Asian (another nonsensical cringe word) actress become characters that are outside the boundaries of what we “see” her as? It's topical. It's hilarious. Yes, it's a theme that has been explored before, but not in this way. And there are stereotypes. Plenty of them. But they were really, really thought about.
CHOP/STICK was born from the frustration of an actress feeling she would never have an opportunity to play outside her ethnicity, and a writer interested in the absurd complexities of cultural diversity requiring stereotyping of cultural identity. Jo Holsted and Michelle Ang are new on the Auckland theatre circuit. Having watched a fair bit of local theatre they decided to bring life to a script they started years ago whilst in Barcelona. They are writing, producing and promoting this project themselves.
Jo has written many short stories and moved into the indie playwriting scene when she relocated to Auckland after being overseas. She currently produces an arts show on community radio; Planet FM, and brings with her a wittiness and cynicism to the themes explored in the project.
Michelle is better known as a television and film actress. She has starred in local dramas including Outrageous Fortune and last year won the NZ Film and TV Award for “Best Actress in a Feature Film” for her role of Emily in “My Wedding And Other Secrets”. Now based in New York, she is the lead in the new US series “Underemployed” premiering this week on the MTV network. This will be a first for Michelle in terms of creating and performing her own theatre piece. She hopes to bring along film/tv audiences to this medium and has lent many personal experiences to the crafting of the script.
Both are very much New Zealanders despite their different backgrounds, colour and eye shape. Both think “inbetweeness” is the new norm. CHOP/STICK really is a play for ANYONE who can use chopsticks.
CHOP/STICK plays: 20th – 24th November 2012
Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, CBD
Tuesday through to Saturday: 8:30pm
Matinee performance: Saturday November 24th 2012: 2.30pm