Notes that I didn’t read out or talk about at my recent Roundhouse gig. Remit – post-Good Immigrant musings. I had too too TOO much anger and noise in my head. I let my body do the talking instead. I played pop music. I brought on Serena Braida and Gloria Sanders, who have been key in shoring me up over the last year, and we read excerpts from our collaboration, scritch. Here:
1. visibility and invisibility – noticed but disregarded.
The media machine. The burden of representation. The cost of talking about distressing things. On being wheeled out at festivals – like dessert – or on panels as the yellow one while organisers pat themselves on the back.
When marketing don’t realise how much more sensitive and considerate they need to be.
– Andrew Lloyd Webber foundation diversity report and Guardian report of the report – on being rewritten as south asian, male, black. on having to fight over a week to be made visible.
– On being told why I’d done didn’t seem Chinese. On Asian drag of the RSC-type shows. Performing Asianness.
– On being in a shiny theatre show and publicly celebrated as one of the ethnics they had got
On seeing pictures celebrating diverse writers and there not being any yellow faces
On mixed race yellows being seen as more beautiful – exotic but familiar
– the language of black and brown and white adjacent
On a Malaysian male comedian involuntarily looking at me during his set, when he mentions yellow people. He performed in a majority white room, about the colonialism being a good thing
On colonial history not being taught at school
2. The reality of being a minority in the U.K. – Chinese 400k. White British 55m – and also in Malaysia. Inconsequential?
on hearing from Chinese-Malaysians, from yellow-ish people, from Asians, that Yellow was the first time they saw themselves. Representation matters – sounds so glib but I care so much about visibility.
On not being invited to an awards ceremony where I think it’s important for there to be a yellow person on stage winning a fab prize. On being invited to shiny awards ceremony to celebrate white establishment theatre.
On a woman of colour who said “I don’t think I feel strongly enough to warrant my attendance” – an event discussing the problem of racism. I used to be this person.
Do I want to fit in? Be British? What is that? The Print Room protest. White actors in a play set “in ancient China”. It’s “an English play”, they said.
On seeming intolerant, right wing or conservative. No damn fun. Where’s my sense of humour? “Where is it funny?”
On power and comedy. Who can we make fun of.
3. Sex & desirability
“This is everyone’s fantasy” – what a man involuntarily murmured while painting me yellow
on wearing silly pretty clothes and getting my legs out
On dressing like crone – thank you Cressida. On living in a post-sexual space. On dressing like a man.
4. Violence and anger
The Good Immigrant t-shirt – drawing attention to myself. Fear.
my t shirt today – Sad Asian Femme – fear of being shouted at for not being “Asian”
On wanting to scrape off my skin after certain acting jobs
5. Mental health. Emotional labour.
Educating people who don’t yet know or understand. Looking after their feelings.
on race trauma. trauma, on being neglected as a child
what is my skin, what is my mental health, what is my personality – what can I change? What shouldn’t I change
homesickness as a mental condition, mental disorder.
Exile and mental illness – from land, from body
In 1688 a Swiss doctor, Johannes Hofer, identified a new medical syndrome, nostalgia: “the sad mood originating from the desire for return”
Hireath homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past.
saudade a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament.
on finding the feeling of home in myself when I’m with the right people
when geographical and spatial home doesn’t exist and won’t exist for the foreseeable future