Yesterday I was interviewed by The Age in the leadup to my play Silence‘s third season. Robin Usher, The Age’s Senior Theatre Editor, asked me whether there was a thriving Vietnamese-Australian arts scene that he didn’t know about. After I named a few names and activities he said he thought it was thriving – so I thought I’d share with you some of the other stuff out there. Chi Vu is a playwright who wrote Vietnam: A Psychic Journey, which is in the PEN Anthology of Australian Literature. I think it’s fabulous that Vietnamese-Australian writing is considered Australian nowadays. Nam Le of course has appeared in Australian Long Stories along with the usual suspects – again a great sign. Dominic Duc Golding wrote Shrimp which was on the VCE list and his work in progress is Umbilical. Hoang Tran Nguyen is a visual artist and there is Van Rudd who is half Viet half Aussie who is an agent de provacteur as well as being Kevin Rudd’s nephew. There is an outfit called Her Productions which is for young Vietnamese-Australian women who used to run the radio show Voicebox on 3CR and now have moved into multimedia and film. And the actresses for Silence include HaiHa Le (Bed of Roses, City Homicide etc) Diana Nguyen (Miss Saigon) and Ai Diem Le as well as Gabrielle Chan from Sydney (Home Song Stories). They have all incidentally been in one season of Silence or another.
I also attended Owen Leong‘s exhibition “Birthmark”. It features photos of young Asian-Australians with bogong moths transformed into their faces and the effect is beautiful and startling. It includes portraits of Tom Cho, Chi Vu, HaiHa Le and Lian Low (the current prose editor of Peril). Owen’s exhibition is on at Anna Pappas Gallery until June.
Rectangular sentinels of the dead
Play hide and seek
Gaps in memory with quick disappearances.
Plain black type on white
Protests against immigration
In a neighbourhood of darker faces
Lounging at tables with coffee and cigarettes
Peril number 6 “Passing failing” has been released. It is an asian-australian arts and culture on line magazine that I have the privilege of working with a number of talented people on. Check it out at www.peril.com.au
Issue 7 is looking for contributors and for once Peril can pay people thanks to the generosity of the Australian Arts Council. Again check it out at www.peril.com.au
Peril had incorporated in September and got it’s first grant from the Australia council of the arts!
Peril is also helping out the casula powerhouse with it’s writing Asia program. Very happy about this peril is growing wings! Also I got into the doctorate at uws. I’ll be working with nicholas jose and gail jones on my next project. This is subject to me getting a masters which I’ve been told will be at the end of january. The other shore has had kathleen look over it and it’s looking good so I am hopeful for it. The new year is looking busy…
I wrote the 80 word “intention to submit” statement for my masters in creative writing today- free at last- almost! I’ve found the journey really interesting, without Kathleen Fallon I would have quit all together. I have learnt that I can write academic discourse in english literature at postgraduate level and I’ve read a lot of interesting texts as well. The creative process for my novella has been a bit painful, the gestation period was long and it was an effort to write. But in the process I’ve learnt about layering my drafts and playing with voices in the text so it has been useful.
Silence was workshopped and redrafted over the weekend which was intense but also a great process lead by Melanie Beddie the dramaturg and Gorkem Acaroglu the director. With their input the play is now more stylised and less naturalistic which is fantastic! Bring on the hungry ghosts I say (with the aid of fog machine and projections).
So now I have some head space for the Footscray Arts residency and my next new work. I’m reading Women Native Other by Trinh Minh Ha which has a great prologue about story telling and ancestry that has resonance for my next theatrical work.
Peril’s inaugural Board meeting is happening in August- more excitement with three people flying in from interstate. I’m thrilled that Peril is getting bigger- and maybe well get funding soon- applications TBA.
I have been reading “Emotional Alchemy” by Tara Bennett-Goleman (yes married to the Emotional Intelligence guy Daniel Goleman) which is about Buddhism and psychotherapy. It was really inspirational. I found the part 4 where she touches on spiritual matters very resonant with where I am at the moment. She talks about mindfulness and that moment when you are fully mindful which you may recognise as “flow” when you are caught in the moment. This quicksilver time, this in between space is what I want to capture when writing. Expressing it and the joy of it to others is difficult.
My piece “Acceptance” has been accepted by Alice Pung to be in the “Growing up Asian in Australia” anthology. I’m really chuffed by this, the anthology is going to be so important in Asian Australian terms so I’m glad to be a part of it. Phillip Tang one of the writers we published in Peril is hopefully going to have his piece published on Peril put in the anthology too which is fantastic- Peril has already achieved one of its’ aims by this happening!
Alice asked me a question in a series of Q and A for the anthology about what was the most important lesson that I’ve learned (or something like that). It really set me thinking. What I came up with is that your story, experience and voice is important and valuable. It’s something that drives my work as a psychologist- and what I’d like to do if I wander down the community arts path or story therapy path (story therapy is a term I’ve just made up for today! I’ve brushed with narrative therapy and in my oodles of spare time (NOT!) I’d like to read up on using story telling in therapeutic practice).
Went to the Asian/Australian Values Workshop in Wollongong on Asian-Australian Literature which you can read about in Peril Issue #4 at www.asianaustralian.org.
Once upon a time in the West a series of short films of which I made the first- Remembrance- is being shown at the Big West festival this week. They are really good short docs (except mine which is a fiction) portraying life in the West, The sort of hour that I would like to sit John Howard and Pauline Hanson in front of and make them watch.
Kathleen Fallon my creative supervisor is leaving Melbourne Uni. I’m currently doing a masters in creative writing and this throws things out a little. I really value my creative life and want to make it more of my life- and it appears one of the ways to do that is get a Phd and move into academia/creative writing. The other is to move into psychotherapeutic story telling which there isn’t the space for at RMIT Counselling Service. I could do more community orientated art work, and group projects- Caitlin Nunn is doing a Phd which involves getting us (meaning the Vietnamese-Australian artists I hang out with) to interview our families and talk about the return home and home and produce themed art from it. It may lead to production at Big West festival 2009. I had initially thought that I would concentrate on getting a book out or in process in 2008 and this is already happening to a degree.
Silence has got production dates 21 May to 1 June 2008 at La Mama Theatre. This fulfils another one of my dreams and I’m thinking of converting it into a film script.
There is so much I could do- and not enough time or money to do it all at once. I tried to draw up a life plan for the next few years to sort out what I want to achieve (and the best way of doing it). I did this two months ago and I’m already roving all over the place!