by Lynn on September 18, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen S. W., Toronto, Ont.

Created by Natalie Tin Yin Gan, Milton Lim, Remy Siu and David Yee

Text by David Yee

Directed by Milton Lim

Miniature design by Natalie Tin Yin Gan with April Leung and Derek Chan

Projections and sound design by Milton Lim and Remy Siu

Performed and co-created by April Leung and Derek Chan

A beautiful production full of technical wizardry but the text and point are so deeply embedded in Chinese culture that it appears mystifying for those who are “foreigners” to that culture.

The Story. A young man goes into a store in a mall to buy a Hermes bag for his girlfriend. The woman working the store is 144 years old and sips tea (no kidding) and tells him to leave saying, “No foreigner. No Foreigner.” He doesn’t know what she means as he is Chinese and so is she. He then goes on several quests to be more Chinese.

The Production and comment. The production created and directed by Milton Lim and his terrific team from Hong Kong Exile, is stunning, eye-poppingly inventive and compelling in its imagery. Various miniature models are projected onto a large screen in the Theatre Centre’s Incubator space. Other images are projected—planes fly across the screen when the scene takes place in a travel agency; butterflies appear in another; a panorama of various locations Hong Kong? Vancouver? Appear.  April Leung and Derek Chan provide the various voices for all the characters that are projected. They sit in the darkened theatre wearing head-microphones. In one segment Derek Chan bursts into song in Chinese and is illuminated in this instance. There are no subtitles in English to explain what the song or any of the sporadic use of Chinese means.

I must confess the lack of a translation is not the problem. David Yee’s impenetrable text is the problem. I will quote all the press information provided for some context and explanation:

NO FOREIGNERS is a multimedia performance that meditates on North American Chinese shopping malls as spaces of cultural creation and clash. Multiple storylines begin in a mall and quickly diverge—catapulting the audience across cities, between Cantonese and English, in and out of the afterlife, through the past, present, and future.

“We’re creating new mythologies with the work, and I think that’s what people leave the show with” says writer and fu-GEN Artistic Director David Yee. “Thanks to the digital apparatus, we’re able to combine myth and realism together in ways that are often elusive in live performance. A large part of any culture is the expression of it through lore, myths, folktales… and this is sort of a hyper-modernized version of those expressions.

Weaving together text, miniatures, digital backdrops and live cameras, NO FOREIGNERS examines our changing relationships to these social spaces and the histories, characters, experiences, and ephemera that keep inviting us back.

“Extending from our experiences as Chinese diaspora, having grown up within and around these malls, we’re trying to re-imagine what these spaces have been for us, how they’ve supported older generations, and how they are changing” says director, designer, and Hong Kong Exile Co-Artistic Director, Milton Lim. “Beyond the bubble waffles, the cheap electronics, the incense, the action figures, the travel agencies, the sponge cakes, the karaoke places—there’s much more than the sum of the parts.”

I can’t remember ever seeing a show about another culture that so distanced me or alienated me without a shred of relevance to mine. Perhaps that was the intent of No Foreigners. If it was then something sure got lost in translation.

The Theatre Centre presents a Hong Kong Exile and fu-GEN Theatre production.

Opened: Sept. 17, 2019.

Closes: Sept. 19, 2019.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pokale kaufen September 25, 2019 at 7:10 am

Achten Sie daher auf die Angaben bei der Anmeldung.


2 geprägte Medaillen September 29, 2019 at 7:33 am

Es sind maximal 17 von 20 Trophäen erspielbar.


3 Billige Pokale October 1, 2019 at 9:18 am

Es sind maximal 39 von 50 Trophäen erspielbar.


4 Kinder Pokale October 2, 2019 at 3:36 am

Das betrifft beide Versionen des Spiels (INT, JP).


5 Rafaela Duckett October 3, 2019 at 4:11 am

Zumindest in der deutschen ist sie zu 100% verbugt.