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Sinophobia and Me

Published on Monday 16 May, 2011

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Or How the Yak Nearly Ruined the Hole in Stacy’s Heart

I once narrowly avoided arrest in China because my full name is arranged in peculiar Welsh order. I hadn’t done anything wrong, not in my eyes; I’d just not stayed in the government approved guest house in Lhasa. On the day the Chinese police discovered that the Aled Roberts on the group visa was the same as the William Aled Gwyn Roberts in Lhasa Guest House’s twin-‘suite’ 4, I was not in Lhasa. I was in the Ö province being chased by a yak around a Buddhist monastery. I then hitched a lift with a Japanese saga-group, got abandoned at a bombed-out temple with a monkey in a cage on a chain and a monk signing writs of forgiveness to anyone with Yuan. When I got back to Lhasa I was told I had to leave the country because I was a SARS risk. Me and everyone else foreign. I have, to my knowledge, never had SARS.

There's a Hole In My Heart - Photo Vick RyderIt is, then, with perhaps understandable trepidation that I learn Stacy Makishi has a hole in her heart that goes all the way to China. Peering into her cardiac lacuna, but being very careful not to fall and find myself in the People’s Republic again, I find a fascinating piece that offers only the most cursory risk of being chased by a yak or forgiven by a corrupt monk.

The penultimate performance from Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery and Studio Theatre’s season, Stacy Makishi’s There’s a Hole in My Heart That Goes All the Way to Chinais a Gordian-knot of interactivity. Stacy’s even inviting audiences to attend an exclusive Page to Stage workshop the following day (19/05/2011) so they can transform the text they’ve written into a performance. The piece seeks to dig “down deep into the lonely caverns of the human heart, but even in its darkest moments, the canary still sings”. The canary, perhaps, is Makishi herself. It is her performance, her ability to make the surreal seem intimate and the fragmentary feel whole that will make this a special descent into the unfathomable depths of everyday loss.

The following week we have LMGST’s final offering of the season, and it pulls no punches. Search Party’s Growing Old With You seeks to circumnavigate the temporal hoodoo of theatrical narrative in the most enervating and truly thoughtful of ways. Starting this year, Search Party will create a performance every ten years for the rest of their lives. Thursday 26 May at Northern Ballet will be the beginning of this lifelong project. The piece will evolve with its makers and finally leave the most rarefied of things - a sincere documentation of existence and change as it’s lived. If, as Søren Kierkegaard sort of said, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”, make sure you’re there for the beginning of the extraordinary theatrical journey. Or the end, depending on which way you look at it.

Book tickets for events & productions in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre at Northern Ballet.

The views expressed in blogs are those of the author and not necessarily of Northern Ballet.