Signal Fires: Beyond Chinatown

A BRITISH EAST AND SOUTH EAST ASIAN GUIDE TO MANCHESTER’S PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

“A fire burns to signal that we’re here. To show our numbers and celebrate our stories. To pass the torch from the past to the present, looking towards the future.”

Naomi was delighted to work with New Earth Theatre as dramaturg on their Signal Fires event Beyond Chinatown: A BESEA guide to Manchester’s past, present and future. British East and South East Asian artists from across the North West joined forces to create a series of pop up plays in Manchester city centre as part of a performance led walking tour. The performances revealed how people from across the East Asian diaspora have become connected to the city and the role they’ve played in Manchester’s history, as well as suggesting how they might be involved in its future.

This project included new work written by Chris Shapiro, Jasmine Chong, Mei Yuk Wong, Anna Nguyen and Houmi Miura as well as an extract from In-Sook Chappell’s 2018 play Mountains: The Dreams of Lilly Kwok.

Wait I’m From Wuhan

A new multi-platform digital project commissioned by HOME and Chinese Arts Now

Wait I’m From Wuhan is the story of a Chinese adoptee struggling to decide whether or not to search for her birth family told via social media. Adopted as a baby from Hubei province into a White British family, to Jasmine, Wuhan was just a word on her birth certificate – until now. Bombarded with images of masked faces and deserted streets, Jasmine’s head fills with questions about the family she left behind.

The project was commissioned by HOME and Chinese Arts Now as part of the Homemakers project. Homemakers is a series of new commissions, where HOME have invited their favourite artists and artistic partners to combine to create work at home, for an audience who are also at home.

Wait I’m From Wuhan is free to access but if you would like to support the work of artist Naomi Sumner Chan and to help Chinese Arts Now to continue to support more artists through this very tough time then please do consider contributing some money via this link the project has a suggested donation price of £5.

For those with a visual impairment audio versions of the blog posts are available.  Jasmine’s Instagram posts have alt text added to make the images accessible to blind and partially sighted audiences who use a screenreader.

DANDELIONS

(In Development)

A verbatim theatre project combining live performance, photography and film to share the experiences of three generations of British military children.

The inspiration for this project (apart from Naomi’s own background as an army brat) comes from a quote that states the official flower of the military child is a Dandelion because they travel all over the world, put down roots wherever they end up and are resilient.

What is it like to live in different countries, move house and school every 2-3 years, make and lose friends or be separated from a parent for an extended period of time? Do these military families see themselves as resilient or is this way of life just “normal?”

This project received funding from The Lowry as one of their Untitled Commissions for 2020.

YELLOW EARTH WRITERS PROGRAMME NORTH WEST

Yellow Earth Academy is a fully funded intensive course for British East Asians*(16+).

Since 2010, Yellow Earth has offered British East Asians* a free intensive acting programme in partnership with ALRA. In 2018 the programme was extended to include a course in Birmingham in partnership with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. In 2020 the Academy arrived in Manchester offering courses in play writing and performance.

Naomi led the writers course which ran from April to October 2020 online. Participants attended monthly workshops where they learnt the foundation principles of playwriting and wrote new 10 minute plays which were shared to an invited audience.

The academies were supported by several Greater Manchester theatres including The Lowry, HOME, Royal Exchange Theatre and STUN, and participants were able to watch performances and meet industry professionals to supplement their learning.

*East Asian descent includes: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and their Diasporas.

BANANA SPLIT

by Naomi Sumner Chan

Lancaster

Director:
Alex Summers
WHITE NAOMI:
Emily Stott
CHINESE NAOMI:
Houmi Miura

Scarborough

Director:
Chelsey Gillard
WHITE NAOMI:
Lydia Waller
CHINESE NAOMI:
Houmi Miura

BANANA SPLIT is Naomi’s new play in development where she reveals what it’s like to grow up as someone caught between being both British and Chinese, never really fully belonging to either culture. Drawing on episodes from childhood right up to the present day she exposes the “everyday” racism and “othering” people of colour continue to face in 21st century Britain.

BANANA SPLIT was shortlisted for The Lancaster Playwriting Prize 2018. An extract from the play was performed script in hand at the awards ceremony at The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster at the end of October 2018. A rehearsed reading of the full play took place at The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough in September 2019.

Museum of Colour

People of Letters Project

The Museum of Colour is a National Heritage Lottery funded online museum celebrating the lives of artists of colour from 1766-2016. It is delivered by People’s Palace Projects and People of Letters is the first exhibition.

The Museum was launched on Friday 20th September 2019 at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford with readings of original work created in response to items in their collection by 10 writers including Grace Nichols, Kei Miller, Bernadine Evaristo, Colin Grant and Naomi Sumner Chan.

To read Naomi’s poem commissioned for this event visit here.