Friday, October 21, 2011
Play brings to life ghosts of Chinese immigrants
In 1902, the SS Ventnor sank in the Hokianga Harbour with the bones of 499 Chinese miners bound for ancestral graves in Canton. A century later Ben, a young man, arrives in the Far North to try to find some link with his past. A new NZ play which draws on the traditions of Asian storytelling, The Bone Feeder is a sumptuous professional theatre production which uses a cast of 19 performers, live music, high-wire martial arts, dance, drama and comedy to tell this story of one of the first times of contact between NZ Chinese and Maori.
The Bone Feeder is a fictional exploration of what is for many Chinese New Zealanders a very real and significant piece of their history. The story of the SS Ventnor, chartered in 1902 by the Shin Tong Association to carry the exhumed bodies of immigrant Chinese back to their home villages, is one which carries emotional weight for the many NZ Chinese who lost family members in the shipwreck, and for the local Maori families who found bones washed up on the coast.
“Back in the 1900s, it was considered important for Chinese to return to their home villages,” playwright Renee Liang (The First Asian AB, Lantern) explains. “So the Chinese which had migrated to New Zealand to work, mainly in the gold fields, considered themselves only temporary visitors. They always intended to return home once they had made enough money. Of course, life being harsh at that time, many of them didn’t make it."
Season dates: 10-20 November 2011 (Preview 9 Nov)
Venue: TAPAC, 100 Motions Rd, Western Springs
Times: Tuesday – Saturday @ 7.30pm (Sunday at 4pm)
No performance Monday 14 November
Tuesday 15 November matinee @ 12pm
Cost: Tickets $15-$30, concessions for seniors, students, children and groups
75 mins. Parental guidance recommended for children under 10. In English with phrases in Cantonese and Maori.
Website: www.bonefeeder.compoetry to the people by means of chalked poems and other poetic stunts.
Renee Liang is a second generation Chinese New Zealander, patriotic Aucklander, and occasional paediatrician. As well as being a well respected poetry she also writes plays, and short stories. She is an MC at Poetry Live on Tuesday evenings in Ponsonby, Auckland.